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Father Boyle, “the Ghandi of the Gangs”

“Father Boyle, the Ghandi of the gangs.” To some this may seem an exaggeration, but to others this is exactly what Father Boyle represents, because he truly was a form of relief and a hope to a better future for gang members.  Homeboy Industries is an organization created by Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit Roman Catholic priest.  Homeboy Industries assists former gang-involved youth and the recently incarcerated to become contributing members of the community.  This free program enables counseling, education, tattoo removal, and job training and placement to provide an opportunity for young men and women to redirect their lives for a better future.

Father Gregory Boyle came to speak about his book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, at UCLA on January 26th, an event provided by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.  The small room where his speech was to be given was packed with people curious about what he had to say, and they had their full attention on him.  He told stories about his reasons for creating Homeboy Industries, how the company came to be, and what it meant to many of the gangsters.

About the industry, Father Boyle says, “We didn’t start, we just evolved.”

He believed in the industry, and that is why he had hope in pursuing the company despite much of the hate that had arisen upon establishing the company.

Father Boyle made sure his audiences kept full attention on him.  He spoke about being asked to do baptisms, quinceñeras, weddings, and (jokingly) exorcisms.  Never turning away an individual who walked into his office, he teared as he recalled individuals to whom he had reached out to and to whom he could have made a difference if they had only stepped foot in his office.

There was a group from Homeboy Industries, whom he had the opportunity to take as speakers at the White House Conference on Children and Youth in 2005.  It was a symbol of their achievement of how far they had come, where they were now sipping white wine with First Lady Laura Bush.  “Anything worth doing is worth trying” is a motto Father Boyle lives by to this day.

Father Boyle says the “chips have fallen into place,” as Homeboy Industries and Homeboy Bakery have expanded to sell their chips and salsa at various Ralphs locations in Southern California. I have yet to try some of these chips, but I am sure they are delicious, as Father Gregory Boyle strives to create the most authentic taste of home in a bag of chips.

-Jess

For your benefit, Homeboy Industries Contact Info:

130 W. Bruno St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012-1815

(323) 526-1254