Love, Fr. Gregory Boyle said recently, is greater than the virus.
“We know love never fails,” Boyle said earlier this spring in a “Thought for the Day” video on the Homeboy Industries website. “Love is the antidote to fear.”
Boyle’s message to the world, “Love Never Fails. It Will Always Find A Way To Have Its Way,” sits prominently on the landing page for Homeboy Industries.Boyle “returns” to Chautauqua Institution as chaplain-in-residence for Week Three of the CHQ Assembly. His first sermon, titled “A Longer Table,” will be broadcast at 10:45 a.m. EDT Sunday, July 12, on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform as part of the service of worship and sermon. His subsequent sermons will be broadcast as part of the 9:15 a.m. EDT morning devotionals on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform Monday, July 13, through Friday, July 17. The titles for his homilies for the week include “Fire All the Other Gods,” “The Thorn Underneath,” “Your Soul Clapping Its Hands,” “Housesitting for God” and “The Place Itself.”
Boyle has been posting 5-minute homilies during the COVID-19 quarantine, which he said is known as “house arrest” to the homeboys and girls.
“God stands with the powerless to remind them of their power,” he said on March 21. “I get memes and texts that are outsized in their tenderness and humor. The memes and gifs are how we remind each other of our own power.”
His homily for Easter morning was titled “If you feel like you are going to go mad or lose hope — don’t.” The risen life is inside this present life; Easter morning is about right now, he said. “Love wins and always will.”
Homeboy Industries has responded to the COVID-19 virus, with homies at the Homeboy Bakery and Homegirl Café preparing meals for people who are food insecure, funded by online sales of coffee cakes and cookies.
Boyle marched in the Hollywood Black Lives Matter protest. He wrote, “I was stunned by the diversity of folks and yet, was struck by the fact that I was clearly the oldest person in view. I couldn’t find another geezer. Young people have been galvanized to put first things recognizably first. This was heartening. I was proud to stand with them, to stand with Black Lives Matter and to stand for the radical kinship that has been our hallmark at Homeboy.”
Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles is the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world. In 1998, Boyle, parishioners and community members started the work that would lead to Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises
A Jesuit priest, Boyle served from 1986 to 1992 as pastor of Dolores Mission Church, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city. That was where he witnessed the impact of gang violence on the community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in the late 1980s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. While law enforcement and the criminal justice system used policies of suppression and mass incarceration as a means to end gang violence, Boyle and the community both in and outside of his parish adopted a radical approach: treating gang members as human beings.
Boyle is the author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship. For his work, he has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame, and in 2014, President Barack Obama named him a Champion of Change. He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics.
This program is made possible by the Samuel M. and Mary E. Hazlett Memorial Fund.