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Los Angeles City Council Proclaims May 19 Father Greg Boyle Day

Jesuit Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, poses for a photo with trainees in this undated photo. President Joe Biden awarded Father Boyle the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House May 3, 2024. (Photo: OSV News/courtesy Homeboy Industries)

WASHINGTON — Just two weeks after he was given a White House honor, Jesuit Father Greg Boyle received recognition closer to home, and on his birthday.

The Los Angeles City Council named May 19 as Father Greg Boyle Day, honoring the 70-year-old priest who founded and directs the gang rehabilitation program, Homeboy Industries, in Los Angeles.

On May 3, the priest received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, from President Joe Biden.

The proclamation of the city’s recognition of the priest for his longtime community work was announced Friday May 17.

In the ceremony, Los Angeles City Council member Eunisses Hernandez said, “For decades, Father Boyle has committed his life to serving others in Los Angeles,” saying that he has “been dedicated to the cause of uplifting those who are often left behind in our society.”

Father Boyle was pastor at Dolores Mission Church in Los Angeles from 1986 to 1992, in an area with a high concentration of gang activity. In response to the neighborhood violence, the priest joined church and community members in 1988 to launch what would become Homeboy Industries.

It started as a bakery that provided former gang members with training and services to pursue a better life and has since expanded to other product lines and catering. The program provides education, mental health, legal, and employment services as well as tattoo removals. It has grown into the largest gang intervention, rehab, and re-entry program in the world.

U.S. President Joe Biden presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jesuit Father Greg Boyle during a ceremony at the White House in Washington May 3, 2024. Father Boyle established Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles in 1992 to improve the lives of former gang members. (Photo: OSV News/Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters)

The priest has received several awards and has written a number of books, including his memoir about Homeboy Industries, “Tattoos On the Heart.” His next book, scheduled to be released in October, is called “Cherished Belonging: The Healing Power of Love in Divided Times.”

After the proclamation was read, Father Boyle spoke to the assembled crowd and said it was the privilege of his life to “know the thousands of men and women who have come through our doors at Homeboy. The day won’t ever come when I have more courage or more nobility or dignity than all those people who have walked through our doors since 1988.”

The priest, who was joined at the event by many from Homeboy Industries, also used the occasion to invite others to do something positive, saying: “This is the invitation of every single person here and every elected official to imagine something wildly different than the divisions that plague us.”