NEWPORT, R.I. – Rev. Gregory Boyle (Father Greg), the Los Angeles priest who for 25 years has devoted himself to saving youths from the destructive threat of gangs, will speak about the success of his Homeboy Industries program and accept an honorary doctorate in humane letters during Salve Regina University’s Convocation ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
The annual Convocation serves as a welcome to the university’s incoming freshman class and officially opens the academic year. It will be held at 3 p.m. on the lawn of Wakehurst Student Center, Ochre Point Avenue. The public is welcome.
Prior to the Convocation ceremony, Father Greg will be the guest of honor at a community luncheon co-sponsored with Child & Family Services. Father Greg will address invited guests, including donors, trustees, business leaders and civic leaders.
After the Convocation, Father Greg will meet with Salve Regina students and children affiliated with Child & Family Services. Media interested in covering any aspect of Father Greg’s visit should contact Matt Boxler at 341-2156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As executive director of Homeboy Industries and an acknowledged expert on gangs and intervention approaches, Father Greg is a nationally renowned speaker on the importance of adult attention, guidance and unconditional love in preventing youth from joining gangs.
His 2010 book, “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion,” received the SCIBA (Southern California Indie Booksellers Association) Non-Fiction Book Award and was named as one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly.
Born in Los Angeles as one of eight siblings, Father Greg entered the order of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and was ordained a priest in 1984. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Gonzaga University, and master’s degrees from Loyola Marymount University, the Weston School of Theology, and the Jesuit School of Theology.
Before founding Homeboy Industries, Father Greg taught at Loyola High School and worked with Christian Base Communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He was appointed as Pastor of Dolores Mission in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1986 where he served through 1992. Following this, Fr. Greg spent time as Chaplain of the Islas Marias Penal Colony in Mexico and Folsom Prison, before returning to Los Angeles and Dolores Mission.
Homeboy Industries traces its roots to “Jobs For A Future” (JFF), a program created in 1988 by Father Greg at Dolores Mission parish. In an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth, Father Greg and the community developed positive alternatives, including establishing an elementary school, a day care program and finding legitimate employment for young people. JFF’s success demonstrated that many gang members are eager to leave the dangerous and destructive life on the “streets.”
In 1992, as a response to the civil unrest in Los Angeles, Father Greg launched the first business: Homeboy Bakery, with a mission to create an environment that provided training, work experience, and above all, the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side. The success of the Bakery created the groundwork for additional businesses, thus prompting JFF to become an independent non-profit organization, Homeboy Industries, in 2001. Today Homeboy Industries’ nonprofit economic development enterprises include Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen, Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, and Homegirl Café.
Father Greg is also a consultant to youth service and governmental agencies, policy-makers and employers. He serves as a member of the National Gang Center Advisory Board (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention). He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy in Los Angeles.
Father Greg has received numerous accolades and recognitions on behalf of Homeboy and for his work with former gang members.