Gregory Boyle was the keynote speaker at the St. Louis Convocation of Jail and Prison Ministry that my daughter and I attended May 14 - 18. Father Boyle is a Jesuit priest who has worked with Gangs in the Los Angeles area for over twenty years. During that time, he founded Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program aimed at helping young men and women find employment and learn to work alongside their peers. Fr. Boyle's motto is "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."
"Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion" is a series of his rich, and often humorous stories describing his experience working in the ghetto. All proceeds from the book are donated to Homeboy Industries.
Father Boyle's presentation had a profound impact on his audience. We were there because we minister to the imprisoned and hope to bring about change in both their personal circumstances and the legislation that affects them. He spoke about how we were to align ourselves with the poor and disadvantaged. The focus of his message:
"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a covenant between equals."
In his book, Fr. Boyle says,"The strategy of Jesus is not centered in taking the right stand on issues, but rather in standing in the right place - with the outcast and those relegated to the margins" (Tatoos on the Heart, pg 72)
Gregory Boyle lives this message. I highly recommend the book "Tattoos On The Heart." It will forever alter your view of the disadvantaged. It will open your heart to young gang members. It will change your life.
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