A friend sent me a newspaper cutting today–from the The Observer a few weeks back–about the work of Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ in LA with gang members. When I was in California I used to visit Greg’s community and he always impressed the hell out of me.
Father Greg Boyle keeps a grim count of the young gang members he has buried. Number 151 was Jonathan Hurtado, 18 – fresh out of jail. Now the kindly, bearded Jesuit mourns him. ‘The day he got out I found him a job. He never missed a day. He was doing really well,’ Boyle says.
But Hurtado made a mistake: he went back to his old neighbourhood in east Los Angeles. While sitting in a park, Hurtado was approached by a man on a bike who said to him: ‘Hey, homie, what’s up?’ He then shot Hurtado four times. ‘You can’t come back. Not even for a visit,’ says Boyle, who has worked for two decades against LA’s gang culture.
As well as the links above I’ve also included a clip featuring Greg from a Jesuit vocations video from a few years back. The clip is the middle of three if you want to see the rest.
Here’s Greg giving a TED talk: