Gregory Joseph Boyle
May 19, 1954
|Education||BA, Gonzaga University; MA, Loyola Marymount University; M.Div., Weston School of Theology; S.T.M., Jesuit School of Theology|
Gregory Joseph Boyle, S.J. (born May 19, 1954) is an American Roman Catholic priest of the Jesuit order. He is the founder and director of Homeboy Industries, the world's largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program, and former pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Los Angeles.
Early life and education
Boyle was born in Los Angeles, and is one of eight siblings born to Kathleen and Bernie Boyle (both now deceased). He attended Loyola High School and, upon graduating in 1972, entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Boyle was ordained a priest in 1984.
He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy and English from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, a master's degree in English from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from the Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, California.
At the conclusion of his theology studies, Boyle spent a year living and working with Christian base communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Upon his return in 1986, he was appointed pastor of Dolores Mission Church, a Jesuit parish in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles that was then the poorest Catholic church in the city. At the time, the church sat between two large public housing projects and amid the territories of numerous gangs.
By 1988, in an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth, Boyle and parish and community members began to develop positive opportunities for them, including establishing an alternative school and a day care program, and seeking out legitimate employment, calling this initial effort Jobs for a Future.
In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Jobs for a Future and Proyecto Pastoral, a community organizing project begun at the parish, launched their first social enterprise business, Homeboy Bakery. In the ensuing years, the success of the bakery created the groundwork for additional social enterprise businesses, leading Jobs for a Future to become an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.
Homeboy Industries is the largest and most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Homeboy offers an "exit ramp" for those stuck in a cycle of violence and incarceration. The organization's holistic approach, with free services and programs, supports around 10,000 men and women a year as they work to overcome their pasts, re-imagine their futures, and break the inter-generational cycles of gang violence. Therapeutic and educational offerings (case management, counseling, and classes), practical services (e.g., tattoo removal, work readiness, and legal assistance), and job training-focused business (e.g., Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Café, and Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery) provide healing alternatives to gang life while creating safer and healthier communities.
Boyle serves as a member of the National Gang Center Advisory Board. He is also a member of the advisory board for the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy in Los Angeles.
In 2010, Boyle's Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, a book recollecting his 20+ years in the barrio, was published by Simon & Schuster. In 2017, Simon and Schuster published a similar volume titled Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship. October 2021, published The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness.
Boyle has received the Civic Medal of Honor from the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the California Peace Prize granted by the California Wellness Foundation, the Lifetime Achievement Award from MALDEF, and the James Irvine Foundation’s Leadership Award.
- "Priest Fights Gangs With 'Boundless Compassion'" Interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air conducted May 19, 2010, broadcast May 20, 2010; the birthday, and the delayed broadcast date, were mentioned in the audio only. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-19. Retrieved 2013-04-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Wolk, Martin (2019-12-05). "Father Gregory Boyle has an ambitious plan to expand Homeboy Industries". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
- Gross, Terry (November 13, 2017). "Priest Responds To Gang Members' 'Lethal Absence Of Hope' With Jobs, And Love". Fresh Air. NPR.
Well, I was ordained a priest in '84, and then I went to Bolivia to learn Spanish, really. And then it just turned me inside out. I was - it's what you would call being evangelized by the poor. I just said, I want to cast my lot with the poorest folks I can find. And it felt to me the fullness of where my life had led me to that point.
- Murphy, Dean E. (July 27, 1992). "Father Boyle Bids Farewell to Homeboys". Los Angeles Times.
- Katz, Jesse (August 6, 1992). "Painfully, the Priest of the Projects Leaves the Gangs He Loves". Los Angeles Times.
- "Homeboy Industries Records, University Archives, UCLA".
- "A statistical analysis of the art on convicts' bodies". The Economist. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- Father Gregory Boyle profile, homeboyindustries.org; accessed April 25, 2018.
- "Priest Fights Gangs With 'Boundless Compassion'", npr.org, May 20, 2010.
- Tattoos on the Heart, simonandschuster.com; retrieved 2010-05-20.
- Lin, Joanna (January 30, 2009). "L.A. civic medal of honor awarded". Los Angeles Times.
Previous medal recipients include Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries; former Los Angeles Mayor Richard O. Riordan and his wife, Nancy Daly Riordan; philanthropist Eli Board; and Warren Christopher, former U.S. secretary of state.
- "Father Gregory Boyle". California Museum. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
- "Food Awards, Part I: The Bon Appetit Awards". Eater SF. September 19, 2007.
- "Honorary Degrees | Whittier College". www.whittier.edu. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
- Rodell, Besha (January 28, 2016). "Homeboy Industries Founder to Receive James Beard Humanitarian of the Year Award". Retrieved February 12, 2018.
- "University names Fr. Gregory Boyle as 2017 Laetare Medal recipient". The Observer. March 27, 2017.