By JULIE MINDA
ORLANDO, Fla. — The founder of the world's largest gang intervention program told attendees at the Catholic Health Assembly last month that the "only praise I think God has any interest in, is 'that you may be one.' That we inch our way to the margins to enter into relationship with others and allow ourselves to be reached by them."
Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder and executive director of the decades-old Homeboy Industries, sprinkled his address on the closing day of the gathering with witty anecdotes about street attitude and the poignant life stories of gang members he has known, employed and befriended. He offered insights into the human condition and a spirituality seated in an appreciation of what can be learned in honest, raw encounters with others, particularly those on society's margins.
Fr. Boyle has spent nearly 30 years working with some of Los Angeles' most hardened gang members, to help them get the services, job training, jobs and care they need to exit a life of crime. "Fifteen thousand folks a year walk through our doors trying to reimagine their lives," he said.