Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J. draws on gang rehabilitation work
THE SANTA CLARA
May 11, 2017
Renowned priest Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J.’s visit to campus drew such a large crowd to the Locatelli Activity Center that some individuals had to stand at the back of the room to hear him speak.
His May 4 keynote address, called “Save the World or Savor It?” focused on inclusion, non-violence, unconditional loving-kindness and acceptance.
He was invited to speak as part of the Santa Clara Community Action Program’s (SCCAP) annual Immigration Week.
Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and reentry program in the world.
He is also the author of The New York Times bestselling book, “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.”
His address was interspersed with emotional and often humorous anecdotes drawing on his over 30 years of experience working with gang-involved women and men.
His primary message centered on the importance of developing kinship with those on the margins of society.
“If people go to the margins and savor what they find there, the world changes,” he said. “People let go of the things they cling to as they find kinship and move on from being superior to others to being connected and passionate with them.”
Students were excited to hear Boyle speak on campus.
“In high school I had heard about Fr. Boyle’s work, and it was really rewarding to hear him speak in person about all that he does,” said junior Laura Hyslop. “His work is so important and he does it so graciously, so I think he sets a great example for all of us.”
Boyle said that serving marginalized communities is not an end-goal, and should not be thought of as a way to rescue others.
Rather, Boyle said, service is a way to develop deeper bonds with other individuals.
“The measure of our compassion lies not in our service to those on the margins, but in our willingness to have kinship with them,” Boyle said.
Throughout his keynote, the priest also highlighted the importance of standing with those whose dignity has been denied by our society.
He maintained that everyone is qualified to work with those on the margins, as it simply requires the ability to be compassionate.
“You don’t have to be a former gang member in order to receive someone,” he said. “As long as you’re the proud owner of a pulse you can do it, and that’s the good news in this.”
SCCAP Director Alaina Boyle said the university chose to have Boyle speak during Immigration Week because his message focuses on acceptance and inclusion, as well as the fact that Homeboy Industries serves immigrant communities.
“His keynote tied in nicely to the week because the themes of his talk were about widening the circumstances of our compassion and understanding for others,” she said.
During a Q&A period, one student asked Boyle to comment on the country’s current president and his immigration policies.
“Jesus took four things seriously— only four: inclusion; nonviolence; unconditional, compassionate, loving kindness and acceptance,” Boyle said.
“At the moment what are the things being taken seriously at the levels at which your question reflects? Exclusion, violence, conditions on our love and wholesale rejection of people.”
Boyle said that resistance to the current president has nothing to do with partisanship, but centers around the Gospel and “taking seriously what Jesus took seriously.”
Homeboy Industries is unique in its compassionate approach to helping former gang members reintegrate into society, and in the multitude of services and opportunities it offers.
15,000 people walk through Homeboy Industries’ doors every year looking to better their lives.
Multiple free services and programs offered, including educational and legal services, tattoo removal and workforce development.
Employment opportunities are also offered at Homeboy’s social enterprises. Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Café, Homeboy Silkscreen and Embroidery, as well as their catering division and grocery stores employ former gang members.
Boyle’s speech was the result of a collaboration between SCCAP, the Ignatian Center and the Johnson Scholars Program.
After addressing the campus community, he attended a luncheon with student leaders from various campus organizations including SCCAP, the Multicultural Center, Campus Ministry, the Associated Student Government, LEAD Scholars and immersion trip leaders.
Contact Krista Clawson at kclawson@ scu.edu or call (408) 554-4852.