Father Greg

About Our Founder and Executive Director, Father Greg Boyle

Fr. Gregory Boyle – best known as Fr. Greg by all who meet him -- was born in Los Angeles, one of eight children. His father, a third-generation Irish-American, worked in the family-owned dairy in Los Angeles County and his mother worked to keep track of her large family. As a youth, Fr. Greg and several of his siblings worked side by side with their father in the dairy. After graduating from Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1972, he entered the order of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and was ordained a priest in 1984.

He received his BA in English from Gonzaga University; an MA in English from Loyola Marymount University; a Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology; and a Sacred Theology Masters degree from the Jesuit School of Theology.

 

Prior to 1986 Fr. Boyle 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. During 1993, he served as Chaplain of the Islas Marias Penal Colony in Mexico and Folsom Prison, before returning to Los Angeles and Dolores Mission. The year 2009 was the 25th anniversary of Father Greg’s ordination as a priest.

 

 

 

Homeboy Industries traces its roots to “Jobs For A Future” (JFF), a program created in 1988 by Fr. Greg at Dolores Mission parish. In an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth, Fr. 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 the model followed today 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, Fr. Greg launched the first business (under the organizational banner of JFF and Proyecto Pastoral, separated from Dolores Mission Church): 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.

 

As Executive Director of Homeboy Industries and an acknowledged expert on gangs and intervention approaches, Fr. Boyle is a nationally renowned speaker. He has given commencement addresses at numerous universities, as well as spoken at conferences for teachers, social workers, criminal justice workers and others about the importance of adult attention, guidance and unconditional love in preventing youth from joining gangs. Fr. Greg and several “homies” were featured speakers at the White House Conference on Youth in 2005 at the personal invitation of Mrs. George Bush. In 1998 he was a member of the 10-person California delegation to President Clinton’s Summit on Children in Philadelphia. Fr. Greg is also a consultant to youth service and governmental agencies, policy-makers and employers. Fr. Boyle 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. Previously, he held an appointment to the California Commission on Juvenile Justice, Crime and Delinquency Prevention.

Click here to watch him speak.

 

Fr. Greg has received numerous accolades and recognitions on behalf of Homeboy Industries for his work with former gang members including:

  • California Peace Prize granted by the California Wellness Foundation in 2000
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from MALDEF in 2004
  • Bon Appétit magazine “Humanitarian of the Year” Award In 2007
  • The Caring Institute’s Caring People Award in 2007 
  • Civic Medal of Honor by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce in 2008
  • The Irvine Leadership Award conferred by the James Irvine Foundation in 2008
  • Los Angeles Headquarters Association honored Fr. Greg as one of the city’s leading visionaries responsible for changing the face of Los Angeles in 2009
  • The Harvard Club of Southern California recognized him with the John Harvard Award for Distinguished Service to the Community in 2009
  • In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of his ordination, an acknowledgement of his tireless service was read into the Congressional Record by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) in 2009 
  • The Elfenworks Foundation presented the In Harmony with Hope Award in 2009
  • The Los Angeles Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America named Fr. Greg as 2009 Citizen of the Year
  • The Bank of America Charitable Foundation selected Fr. Greg and Homeboy Industries as a recipient of the 2009 Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Builder award, acknowledging our work in job training.
  • The Los Angeles YMCA conferred the Brotherhood Award on Fr. Greg during its 39th Annual YMCA Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Brotherhood Breakfast on January 15, 2010.
  • Honorary degree from Claremont University (Claremont, CA) as well as an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters conferred by Occidental College (Los Angeles) in May 2010
  • The Mexican American Opportunity Foundation conferred the Community Service Aztec Award and Peace Over Violence recognized Fr. Greg with its Humanitarian Award in October 2010.

 

Father Greg’s NY Times Bestselling book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, received the 2010 SCIBA (Southern California Indie Booksellers Association) Non-Fiction Book Award and was named as one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly. The 2010 Goodreads Choice Awards finds Fr. Greg nominated as Best Debut Author. 

 

Homeboy Industries, now located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, is recognized as the largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the county, and has become a national model.