Sunday morning I caught the last half of the program “On Being”, NPR’s weekly program on spirituality. The show is nearly always good, and sometimes very fine.
Sunday’s show was about Fr Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest who has dedicated his life to working with gang members in Los Angeles. I was really quite taken with the man and his ministry. He approaches young people that many would consider dangerous and beyond hope with a completely non-judgmental and sympathetic heart, and as a result he has turned many lives around. He started by founding Homeboy Bakery to provide jobs for the unemployable- felons and gang members- and has gone on to found various other enterprises: a cafe, a tortilla company, a farmer’s market, etc.
Listening, I couldn’t help but think that Fr Greg embodies the best of the Jesuit tradition: incarnational, selfless, and loving, the sort of sympathetic approach to humans and cultures that led early Jesuit missionaries to immerse themselves in the cultures they were trying to evangelize, to become, as much as possible, at home in them and to find whatever is redeemable there. Fr Greg has entered into the often harrowing life of the LA ghettos, and has found lives worthy of love and redemption.
You can see the interview with Krista Tippett, from “On Being”, here:
And here is the website for Fr Greg’s work: http://homeboyindustries.org/