Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J.
Mission Week February 10, 2021
Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters
Conferred on Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J.
Gregory J. Boyle of the Society of Jesus has spent his career as an exemplar of cura personalis and bringer of hope. A Jesuit priest, he is the founder of Homeboy Industries, which is the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world. A native of Los Angeles, from 1986 to1992 Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city.
During his years as pastor, Father Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence firsthand and took courageous and compassionate action. In 1988 Father Boyle along with parish and community members started what eventually would become Homeboy Industries, whose mission is to provide hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of their community. Homeboy Industries employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises and provides critical services to men and women seeking a better life. Homeboy's holistic approach includes therapeutic and educational offerings, practical services like tattoo removal and work readiness and job training-focused social enterprises, serving thousands of men and women each year. The organization offers a path out of the cycles of violence and incarceration and helps people develop the strength and skills to transform their lives and create safer, healthier communities.
Father Boyle has received numerous awards and recognitions, most notably the California Peace Prize, the 2017 Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame (the oldest honor given to American Catholics), and the 2016 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award. In 2014 President Obama named Father Boyle a Champion of Change. Currently he serves as a committee member of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Economic and Job Recovery Task Force in response to COVID-19.
Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His second book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, was published in 2017.
Because of his exemplary career as priest, CEO, writer, and entrepreneur on behalf of our human family, President Lovell, I hereby recommend Reverend Gregory J. Boyle of the Society of Jesus for the Marquette University degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.