Father Gregory Boyle Calls All of Us to Remember the Transformative Power of Tenderness
Over the past 30 years, beloved Jesuit priest Father Gregory Boyle has transformed thousands of lives through his work as the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest and most successful gang-intervention program in the world.
In a community struggling to overcome systemic poverty and violence, Father Greg and Homeboy Industries fight despair and remain generous, hopeful, and tender. Over the years, Father Greg has stepped in as a father figure to countless men. To wit: At just 13 years old, Saul killed his abusive stepfather in self-defense and after spending 23 years in juvenile and adult jail, he entered the Homeboy Industries training and healing programs. “I’ve decided to grow up to be somebody I always needed as a child,” Saul said. Now, Saul shows tenderness toward the young men in his former shoes, treating them all like his sons and helping them to find their way.
Father Greg can share countless moving stories like Saul’s, and in doing so, he challenges our ideas about God and about people, providing a window into a world filled with fellowship, compassion, and fewer barriers.
“Father Greg is a global champion of social justice, a global champion of the divinity in each of us, and a global champion of people in general,” says Maria Shriver. “He focuses on people who were in gangs and their rehabilitation, but larger than that to me, he really cares about the beauty that exists in each and every one of us.”
“The minute you can say, ‘Wow—the widow, orphan, stranger, folks at the margins—these are my trustworthy guides, I'm going to go there so they can lead me to the kinship.’ Oh God. You’ve just turned privilege on its head because you’re not guiding them or leading them,” Father Greg told Maria. “They’re doing that to you.”
Thank you, Father Greg, for bringing your big, tender heart to everything you do and in the process, showing all of us of the inspiring, transformative power of extravagant tenderness.