BY ISN STAFF | May 22, 2017
The measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins but only in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them.
Weaving in few jokes, a swear word or two, and the powerful story of one of Homeboy Industries’ “homies,” Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., left University of Notre Dame graduates inspired at the end of his 11-minute address during the campus commencement ceremonies in South Bend, Indiana, on May 21, 2017.
Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, received Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics. Established at Notre Dame in 1883, the Laetare Medal was conceived as an American counterpart of the Golden Rose, a papal honor that antedates the 11th century. The medal has been awarded annually at Notre Dame to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” “For nearly 30 years, Father Boyle has served men and women who have been incarcerated and involved with gangs, and, in doing so, has helped them to discover the strength and hope necessary to transform their lives,” said Notre Dame’s president,
“For nearly 30 years, Father Boyle has served men and women who have been incarcerated and involved with gangs, and, in doing so, has helped them to discover the strength and hope necessary to transform their lives,” said Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., according to a Notre Dame release. “Father Boyle’s solidarity with our sisters and brothers at the margins of society offers an inspiring model of faith in action. We are grateful for the witness of his life and honored to bestow this award on him.”
Fr. Boyle offered a keynote address at the 2016 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C., as well as headlining a young alumni event with Fr. James Martin, S.J., and participating in a panel on criminal justice reform during the Teach-In.
Homeboy Industries, which began in 1988, is now the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Homeboy’s holistic approach — including therapeutic and educational offerings, practical services like tattoo removal and work readiness and job training-focused social enterprises — serves 10,000 men and women a year. The organization offers an exit ramp to those stuck in cycles of violence and incarceration and helps them develop the strength and skills to transform their lives and become contributing members of society.