Father Greg Boyle, SJ, founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, will be honored with the Robert M. Holstein Faith Doing Justice Award by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
Father Boyle will be honored on April 17, at an evening cocktail reception at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.
The Holstein Award honors one individual nationally each year who has demonstrated a significant commitment to leadership for social justice grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. The award’s namesake, the late Robert “Bob” M. Holstein, was a former California Province Jesuit, labor lawyer, fierce advocate for social justice, and one of the founders of the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice — the precursor to the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
Father Boyle was born in Los Angeles, entered the Society of Jesus in 1972, and was ordained a priest in 1984. He received his B.A. in English from Gonzaga University, an M.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University, and advanced theology degrees from The Weston School of Theology and the Jesuit School of Theology.
He has taught at Loyola High School in Los Angeles, was chaplain in the Islas Marias Penal Colony in Mexico and at Folsom Prison, and worked with Christian Base Communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Father Boyle was appointed pastor of Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1986, where he served through 1992. At the time, Dolores Mission was the poorest Catholic parish in the city, located between two large public housing projects with the highest concentration of gang activity in Los Angeles. He witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during what he has called “the decade of death” that began in the late 1980s. In the face of law enforcement and criminal justice tactics and policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, Fr. Boyle and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treating gang members as human beings.
Homeboy Industries was born in 1988 and is now the largest gang intervention, rehab, and re-entry program in the United States.
“Fr. Boyle has been a prophetic witness for justice throughout his ministry as a Jesuit,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “Through his founding and continued leadership of Homeboy Industries, he has transformed what it means to stand with the marginalized – with those forgotten by our society – by creating a model program that emphasizes kinship as a vision for a more just world.”
Father Boyle is the author of the The New York Times best-selling book Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His debut book has been honored by SCIBA (Southern California Indie Booksellers Association), Pen USA, Publishers Weekly, and Goodreads Choice Awards. In fall of 2017, Fr. Boyle’s second book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship was released.
A recipient of numerous honorary degrees, awards, and recognitions including the Civic Medal of Honor, the California Peace Prize, and Humanitarian of the Year from Bon Appétit magazine, Fr. Boyle was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2011. He has served on the State Commission for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, The National Youth Gang Center Board, and the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Task Force. Father Boyle was a keynote speaker at the 2016 Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice.
Honorary committee members for this year’s event include Father John Baumann, SJ; U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas; Father Greg Goethals, SJ; U.S. Representative Jimmy Gomez; U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris; Loretta Holstein; Father Michael Kennedy, SJ; Father Stephen Privett, SJ; Jesuits West Provincial Father Scott Santarosa, SJ; Robert and Joanne Smith; Loyola Marymount University President Timothy Law Snyder, PhD; and U.S. Representative Juan Vargas.
Prior recipients of the Robert M. Holstein Faith Doing Justice Award include Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University (2017), Father Michael Garanzini, SJ, chancellor and former president of Loyola University Chicago (2016), Sister Carol Keehan, DC, president of the Catholic Health Association (2015), Father James L. Connor, SJ, former president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference (2014), Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, anti-death penalty activist (2013), Father Donald MacMillan, SJ, campus minister at Boston College (2012), Father Stephen Privett, SJ, former president of the University of San Francisco (2010), and Father Charlie Currie, SJ, former president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (2009).
(From: Ignatian Solidarity Network)