Homeboy Industries Founder Honored For Service to Ignatian Mission

04-11-11
          Rev. Gregory Boyle, S.J., sees his work with Los Angeles gang members as developing “a community of kinship.”

          The recipient of The University of Scranton’s 2011 Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Award for Distinguished Contributions to Ignatian Mission and Ministries, Father Boyle said that kinship breaks gang ties by creating “an unshakable sense that we are in this together – that there is no us and them – just us.”

          As the founder and chief executive officer of Homeboy Industries, which is the nation’s largest gang intervention and re-entry program, Father Boyle works to “dismantle messages of shame and disgrace so that the soul can feel its worth.” Through Homeboy Industries, he provides gang-involved youth opportunities to work side-by-side with rival gang members so that they can learn life skills and stand on their own.

          In his remarks at the award presentation, Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., president of The University of Scranton, marked national poetry month by reading “To Be of Use” by Marge Piercy.

          “The people I love the best
          jump into work head first
          without dallying in the shallows
          and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight
          …
         The pitcher cries for water to carry
         and a person for work that is real.”

         Father Pilarz also recognized John Kelly, a graduate of The University of Scranton’s class of 2010, who serves as a case manager at Homeboy Industries.

        In 1988, Father Boyle created Jobs For a Future (JFF) in an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth. Working with community leaders, he established an elementary school and a day care program and developed employment opportunities for young people.

        Four years later, Father Boyle launched Homeboy Bakery. Its mission was 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 led him to establish additional businesses, and JFF became Homeboy Industries, an independent nonprofit organization, in 2001. Today Homeboy Industries’ nonprofit economic development enterprises include Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen, Homeboy Maintenance, Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise and Homegirl Café – with Father Boyle serving as executive director.

       Father Boyle has received numerous awards for his work. He is also the author of “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.”

       The Arrupe Award is named in honor of the late Very Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the superior general of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983. The University of Scranton instituted the award in 1995 to further its namesake’s vision by recognizing men and women for outstanding contributions in a wide variety of Ignatian-inspired ministries.

       Other speakers at the ceremony, held on April 7 in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall, were Rev. Richard G. Malloy, S.J., as vice president for university ministries; Patricia Vaccaro, director of community outreach; Harry Dammer, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Sociology/Criminal Justice Department; and senior Julia White of Wallingford, president of the JUSTICE club.

       The Arrupe Award presentation can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJrhWbaCbBA.

 


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