Father Gregory Boyle, known for his leadership at Homeboy Industries in
Los Angeles, spoke at
Anaheim on Thursday (Sept. 20). His visit concluded the school's month-long All-School Reading Program in which all students, parents, faculty and staff read and discuss one book, together, as a community. He spoke eloquently of his work with gang members and how his jobsites that employ rival gang members help build relationships of compassion and trust.
A committee composed of faculty and students read and discussed a wide array of books before choosing Tattoos on the Heart for its moving stories of compassion, redemption and hope. In late August and early September, students read and discuss the book during class time and the annual program culminates with an intimate talk with the author.
Rev. Boyle's book has received rave reviews from educators, readers and book sites. The Christian Century describes the book as "Incandescent, always hope-filled and often hilarious. Boyle somehow maintains and exuberant voice that celebrates the strength, compassion and humanity of people often demonized. He simply highlights charity and goodness wherever they are found. Boyle intersperses his narratives about gang members and his work with them with theological and spiritual reflections from a variety of theologians, poets and other writers."
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion was published in February 2011. At the time, Boyle, a Jesuit priest, had run Homeboy Industries for 20 years already. The book is his memoir of working with the gang-intervention program located in the
Heights neighborhood of
Los Angeles, where there are 1,100 gangs with nearly 86,000 members.
Homeboy Industries offers job training, tattoo removal, and employment to members of enemy gangs. Father Boyle has received numerous humanitarian awards for his work and is an inspiring speaker.