LA City Council Proclaims May 19 as `Father Greg Boyle Day' in the City

Homeboy Industries' Lo Maximo 2024 Awards Dinner

Photo: Leon Bennett / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council Friday recognized Father Gregory Boyle, the founder and director of Homeboy Industries, who recently received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for leading the world's largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program.

Council members Eunisses Hernandez and Tim McOsker led the ceremony and issued a proclamation establishing May 19 to forever be Father Greg Boyle Day in the city. Both council members uplifted Father Boyle's life and work, calling it "lucky" to have him as an Angeleno.

"Thank you Father Boyle for your years of service," Hernandez said. "I'm honored to recognize you here today and for being a reminder of the importance of championing this work for generations to come."

McOsker said that Father Boyle "teaches us every day to reach as far as we can to the margins and make sure nobody is left outside."

Father Boyle called it the "privilege" of his life to know the thousands of men and women who have come through Homeboy Industries. He added that the founding of the organization was sparked with the idea of investing in people rather than try to incarcerate "our way of practically everything."

Regarding Homeboy Industries, Boyle said "It's the front porch of the house where all of us want to live in place of kinship, connection and cherished belonging. This is the invitation of every single person here and every elected officials is to imagine something wildly difference than the divisions that plague us."

On May 5, President Joe Biden presented Boyle and 18 others with the medal in a ceremony at the White House.

Boyle's work "reminds us of the power of redemption, rehabilitation and our obligation to those who have been condemned or counted out," Biden had said.

"This recognition is heartening because it honors the many thousands of men and women who have walked through our doors at Homeboy Industries since 1988," Boyle said. "It acknowledges their dignity and nobility and the courage of their tenderness. It underscores for us all the invitation to no longer punish the wound, but seek its healing. It recognizes the need to invest in people and to create together a community of cherished belonging."

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Boyle became a Jesuit in 1972 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984. He holds a bachelor's degree in English from Gonzaga University, a master's degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, a master of divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology and a master of sacred theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

Founded as Jobs for the Future in 1988, Homeboy Industries eventually became the world's largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program. The program serves nearly 10,000 people in Los Angeles annually while acting as a global model for hundreds of organizations around the world, officials said.

In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Boyle launched Homeboy's first social enterprise in an abandoned bakery across the street from the church, dubbed Homeboy Bakery. More than three decades later, Boyle's operation has evolved into 13 social enterprises.

In addition to job training, Homeboy Industries provides relationally based, holistic services that include tattoo removal, legal, educational and housing services, substance use disorder support, and attempts to provide mental health and wellness.

Boyle has authored three books, including the 2010 New York Times bestseller, "Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion."

Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the Medal of Freedom is awarded annually by the president to "individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

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