Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ
, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, will deliver in September the inaugural Br. William Barnabas Cornelia Lecture
, which honors the first president of Iona College (1940-46).
Father Boyle's talk, "Barking to the Choir: Now Entering the Kinship of God," draws from his 30 years of working with gang members and his consistent focus on compassion and kinship as the tools to fight despair and decrease marginalization. Carl Procario-Foley, Ph.D.,
director of Iona College’s office of mission and ministry, calls Father Boyle “a modern-day Edmund Rice, who provides a contemporary lens to understand the liberating power of education and opportunity.”
From 1986 to 1992, Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles. The parish was located between two large public housing projects with the highest concentration of gang activity in the city. 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 tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings. By 1988, they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, now the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and reentry program in the world. Homeboy employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to 10,000 men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.
Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
. He is the subject of Academy Award-winner Freida Lee Mock’s 2012 documentary, "G-Dog." He has received the California Peace Prize and the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics. He has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame, and in 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change.
The lecture is sponsored by Iona’s Office of Mission and Ministry, the Core Curriculum, the Religious Studies Department, and the Driscoll Professorship in Jewish-Catholic Studies.
Scheduled for Tuesday, September 19, at noon in Mulcahy Gymnasium, the event is free and open to the public.