Make a Difference
“St. Aloysius’ College is not a place you go to. It is the place you go from.” – Fr Greg Boyle, 2015
Two years ago, Fr. Greg Boyle visited St Aloysius’ College to address S2 pupils as part of their Being Different makes a Difference Retreat and made such an impact on the pupils that the College invited him back to Glasgow to speak to senior Aloysians and the general public as part of the lecture series for the College’s Centre for Social and Environmental Justice.
In the 1980s, Fr Boyle created Homeboy Industries as a means of helping to provide jobs and training for former gang members from his Parish, which was at that time home to the largest concentration of gangs in the United States.
Homeboy Industries is now the largest Gang prevention programme in the USA and its presence and impact can be felt around the city of Los Angeles.
Each year over 10,000 young men and women from across the city come through Homeboy Industries’ doors to make a new beginning and escape the area’s pattern of crime.
Katie Munro, an S6 pupil at St Aloysius' College and a member of the Justice and Peace Society, felt inspired by Fr. Boyle’s message. Read her reflection below.
Tuesday 8th September saw the school host three talks in which Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, was the guest speaker. Following talks for senior school pupils in the morning, Fr. Boyle also spoke in the evening for the general public and parents. In both instances audiences, pupils and parents alike, were inspired by, and in awe of, Father Boyle's work. First and foremost, he explained the need for his work within the Los Angeles area and his parish in particular, where there were no less than eight rival gangs when he first arrived. The need to address this issue was heartbreakingly highlighted when he told us that since arriving there in the 1980s, he had buried over two hundred young people. He then spoke about Homeboy Industries, and their main objective; to aid gang members from Los Angeles in getting their lives together. There are various ways in which the company does this; through Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Cafe and various other departments. Welcomed with laughter was the story of one of the 'Homeboys', a previous gang member who was now working for the company, in which Fr. Boyle described the man’s rather explicit tattoo across his forehead and how he had commented, 'You know I'm finding it hard to get a job.' The meaning of this story however was that it prompted the creation of the free tattoo removal service that Homeboy Industries provides to thousands each year.
Not only did Fr. Boyle talk about Homeboy Industries itself, he also shared stories of the individuals he has found himself coming to know well over the years. During his evening talk, for example, he spoke with emotion when talking about Mario, a man covered in tattoos and the "kindest soul" he had ever met. While at a talk in the U.S., Mario told the audience in tears that he hoped his children wouldn't turn out like him. Movingly, Fr. Boyle recalled the kindness of the strangers in the audience and how an audience member told Mario that they hoped his children turned out like him, because he was kind and loving and dedicated to his children and making their lives better than his had been. Accounts such as this were a key feature of his address, all spoken with emotion, and in some cases, moving members of the audience to tears. In particular he stressed that no one joins a gang to belong; only to run away from something.
Fr. Boyle spoke wonderfully, practically in poetry, and captivated the audience for the entirety of the talk. It is fair to say that all who heard him speak were both impressed and inspired by both his work and his words.
- Katie Munro, S6 St Aloysius' College