A man on a mission, Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world, delivered a poignant and moving message, sprinkled with humor during South Pasadena’s third annual Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday at Oneonta Congregational Church in South Pasadena.
Boyle focused on the event’s theme, “Empowering Youth,” during his early morning talk as many in the crowd hung on to his every word. Soaking in the applause was a man who has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame, has received the California Peace Prize, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from Bon Appetit and the 2008 Civic Medal of Honor from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
In his newest book, “Barking to the Choir, The Power of Radical Kinship,” Boyle urges readers to “find kinship with one another and get a glimpse at a world defined by more compassion and fewer barriers.”
Guests walked away from the breakfast with a sincere appreciation for the man’s honest, sincere, and compassion to help others.
“We were delighted and challenged by Boyle’s humorous and insightful stories from his years of experience working with youth who are often marginalized by society,” explained Rev. Lincoln Skinner, senior minister at Oneonta Congregational Church following the event. “The theme was “Empowering Youth,” yet Boyle profoundly shared how the youth he served had actually empowered him in return. We are grateful for his reminder that our relationship with God must draw us into a deeper kinship with our neighbor.”
Through case management, counseling, classes, practical services, work readiness training, legal assistance, job training and other free services, Homeboy Industries provides an opportunity for individuals locked in a world of violence and incarceration a way out. Some of those helped can be found weekly selling bakery goods at the South Pasadena Farmers’ market.
“I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Father Boyle at the prayer breakfast,” said Board of Education member Julie Giulioni following the event. “I loved his humor and humanity. I’ve thought a lot about his notion that we don’t go to the margins to make a difference in others but rather to become different ourselves. That’s really powerful. And the message of ‘kinship’ couldn’t be more timely.”
Added Michele Downing, a longtime realtor in town: “I thoroughly enjoyed Father Boyle’s message. It was very inspirational, motivational and with a flare of humor, too.”
Using a holistic approach, Homeboy supports more than 10,000 men and women who strive to overcome difficult pasts, by focusing on their futures, while breaking down a pattern of gang violence.
“I appreciate Father Boyle’s personal journey as an activist and priest and his theme of unconditional love that offers a powerful message to our community to empower our youth,” said Councilmember Robert Joe.
Each year the breakfast, which gets underway at 7 a.m., rotates among churches in South Pasadena. Funded entirely by private donations and ticket sales, the 2016 and 2017 events raised $9,000 to facilitate disaster preparedness and to serve those in need.
“Father Boyle provided a very engaging, emotional talk,” said South Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Geoff Yantz. “I think those in the audience probably came away with a lot of different messages that would provide meaning to them. He was able to touch just about every person in that room. For me, I walked away with a feeling of hope – hope for individuals who are faced with great challenges of need that they can overcome with the support of people around them. As a society, it’s important to figure out ways to find those support systems in our communities and connect those faced with those challenges to overcome them.”