News Release

Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J. Visits UDM to Speak on “Hope, Healing and Gang Violence”

Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J., founder and director of Homeboy Industries and an internationally recognized expert on gangs will discuss his experiences with Latino gangs in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ford Life Science Building, Room 113 on the McNichols Campus.

Twenty five years ago, operating with the slogan of "Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job", Boyle founded Homeboy Industries, a complex of businesses, including bakeries, catering services, silk screening, and tattoo removal, in which rival gang members work together and learn to treat each other with respect. He articulates a compassionate perspective and a profound spiritual vision as he tells stories, often with humor, about his years of working with young people in the gangs in Los Angeles. He is an entertaining, informative, and inspiring speaker.

Born in Los Angeles (one of eight children), Boyle worked in the family-owned dairy, loading milk trucks to earn his high school tuition.  An enduring memory of that youthful time is when “…these weathered old truckers would come up to me, put their arms around me and point at my father in the distance, on the loading dock, and say, ‘Your dad is a great man.’”  Lessons from that first job apply at Homeboy Industries today where employees come to change for themselves and their children.

Prior to 1986 he taught at Loyola High School and in Bolivia.  Appointed Pastor of Dolores Mission (Boyle Heights neighborhood) in Los Angeles, he served from 1986-1992. During 1993, he was a Chaplain at a Mexican Penal Colony and Folsom Prison, returning to LA and Dolores Mission in 1994. 

Homeboy Industries traces its roots to “Jobs For A Future” (JFF), created in 1988 by Boyle at Dolores Mission.  To address the escalating problems of gang-involved youth, he and the community developed an elementary school, day care program and sought legitimate employment for young people. 

In 1992, as a response to LA’s civil unrest, he launched the first Homeboy Bakery to create training, work experience, and opportunities for rival gang members to work side by side.  Today Homeboy Industries’ nonprofit social enterprises include Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Diner, Homeboy Farmers Markets, Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery, Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, and Homegirl Café & Catering along with comprehensive free wrap-around services.

A nationally renowned speaker, he and several “homies” were featured speakers at the White House Conference on Youth in 2005 at the personal invitation of Mrs. George W. Bush.  In 1998 he was a California delegation member for President Clinton’s Summit on Children. 

Boyle serves on the National Gang Center Advisory Board (U.S. Department of Justice).  He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy and previously served on the California Commission on Juvenile Justice, Crime and Delinquency Prevention. 

Boyle’s first book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, was released on March 9, 2010, and named one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly and is the PEN USA 2011 Best Creative Nonfiction Book.  The 2010 Goodreads Choice Awards identified him as “Best Debut Author”.  

Homeboy Industries, now located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, is recognized as a national and international model for youth seeking to move beyond gangs and achieve a life of hope.

The lecture is free and open to the public. It is being sponsored by UDM's Catholic Studies Program as a part of UDM ‘s Martin Luther King, Jr. Week. For questions, call 313-993-1150.

Release date: January 10,2012

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The University of Detroit Mercy is Michigan's largest private Catholic University, offering approximately 100 majors and programs in 60 academic fields. Sponsored by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, the University has three campuses located in downtown and northwest Detroit.

For the 11th consecutive year, UDM was ranked among the top tier of Midwestern master's universities in U.S.News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" – 2012 edition.