Greg Boyle —
The Calling of Delight: Gangs, Service, and Kinship

A Jesuit priest famous for his gang intervention programs in Los Angeles, Fr. Greg Boyle makes winsome connections between service and delight, and compassion and awe. He heads Homeboy Industries, which employs former gang members in a constellation of businesses. This is not work of helping, he says, but of finding kinship. The point of Christian service, as he lives it, is about “our common calling to delight in one another.”

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is a Jesuit priest and founder / executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California. His memoir is Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.

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“You want people to recognize that they’re the truth of who they are — that they’re exactly what God had in mind when God made them.” ~Fr. Greg Boyle

Krista Tippett speaks with the Jesuit priest whose prison ministry has worked with some of the most violent, gang-ridden members in Los Angeles. A riveting hour and the second in our series of conversations from Chautauqua.

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From Fr. Boyle's Facebook page, he posted this picture of a former gang member with the caption: "At Homeboy Industries we don't hire homies to bake bread, we bake bread to hire homies."

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What a stellar episode and a stellar person in Father Greg Boyle. He is such a great example of what a Christian should be.

Why limit his example? Grey Boyle's attitude is what EVERYONE, believer or not, should be. Christianity did not invent compassion and goodness... it just codified these values, then repackaged and marketed them. It's my view that a human can be every bit as "good" without following the prescription of any organized spiritual faith.

What you describe is true in theory, but in my experience no one is complete without his/her roots, whatever they are. If a religion has been part of someone's identity, s/he does not reach piece without accepting that part.
I don't think the issue is "good" and "bad" though. Every being has its own individual value. Some (very few?) have realized that value and live their lives accordingly, most others have partially realized, etc.

I am reading Boyle's book Tattoos on the, Heart. I was studying gangs and read about Boyles so I bought his book. Great Christian example. I really enjoyed this book. It is a very deep spiritual book. I learned a lot from it. It is certainly much more than a book about gangs. I highly recommend it. I haven't read such a thought provoking spiritual book since I read Scott Pecks The Road Less Travled.

This heart- and mind-opening interview reminded me so much of your interview with Jean Vanier who, as I recall, lived with intellectually disabled adults and found the mutuality of love and delight in that commitment.

I am impressed by Fr Boyle's ministry. Take a look

Every Sunday morning, I wake up at 7 to listen. I am never disappointed, but rather left in awe, my ideas and creativity leaping around the room!

Thank you.

Father Boyle is my homie.

An old friend from the mindfulness tradition told me to dump my books and "practice". This amazing contact, thanks to Krista and NPR makes the same challenge. How do I avoid words like "delight," "awe," "connection"? Let's meet in our low places! Heck, let ME meet in in MY low place! Maybe we could send a copy of this to the Cardinals before they get into conclave!!

Fr. Boyle lives a catholic compassion that has eroded in the Roman Catholic church in the past couple of decades. Jesuits were never good about following papal doctrine - thank goodness. I would like to have a Pope who emphasizes compassion, forgiveness, love and service to everyone - not just those whom we deem worthy.

Now there is such a Pope! And a Jesuit, as well! How wonderful and awe-inspiring is that?!

I listen regularly to On Being and always enjoy it. This interview with Father Greg Boyle is far and away the best episode I have heard! What an amazing testimony to what Christianity means. As always, Krista is an amazing interviewer and, clearly, Fr. Boyle is an inspired speaker, leader and healer. I will urge everyone I know to listen to this show. Thank you, Krista, and thank you Fr. Boyle for showing us how to live.

I was so inspired and filled with hope and joy by this incredible man! Fr. Boyle's reflections on scripture, life and suffering were refreshing and true.

What a wonderful Sunday morning with On Being introducing me to Farher Boyle as my Sunday morning gift! I am a retired public school teacher and I was in tears thinking of all my male students who all of us have left out of our Communities.

A gift from the heart thank you Fr Greg Boyle and Krista Tibbets-On Being.
"Be the mythe you want to unfold" Rumi
Moon Language and the God Who Only Knows Four Words...Come Dance With Me are my favorites from Hafiz.

This man should be Pope. He speaks of a God that loves us beyond our comprehension, what the world is truly longing to hear.

I live in Tel Aviv, and so download the show's podcasts and listen anywhere, anytime. This episode with Fr. Boyle I have been listening to repeatedly, each time learning something I didn't quite catch or understand the previous time(s). He is one of those angels on earth in the guise of a human being — a uniquely intuitive, devoted, creative genius in his faith, reflection, and action. I want him to be a MacArthur Fellow! How do we help make this happen? Kudos to Krista for the series, finding such gems, and engaging with them honestly and thoroughly, spreading their positive messages and examples worldwide.

Fr. Boyle is truly inspirational. I'm recently retired and struggling to add more meaning to my existence. When I hear Fr. Boyle speak I feel more able to find the path which I am seeking. I may have just taken one of the many steps which lie ahead as I learn about the "vastness" of Jesus and his plan for me. Thank you Father Boyle and Krista Tippett.

Real spiritually!l

inspiring.we/you are the center of Gods circle.Be in it.

This was so moving because of Fr. Boyle's very real connection to these young people. In working with troubled youth for 14 years, I conclude that we who do this work need to provide more skills, more work opportunities for them. But what Fr. Boyle made so crystal clear was their empty-ness and their need to find their own worth. He models the kind of relationships needed to help these changes take place. I will share this with those in my community who may run with it - it was an electric charge to me. Krista, it may be because it was so close to home, but I think this was exceptional

I pray that Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras will be elected Pope. He is one with the poor and was ordained in Guatemala in 1970. Besides, he was the only smiling Cardinal I saw amongst the Cardinals listed as possible replacements for our Holy Father Benedict XVI Emeritus. JMJ pray for us that we too may be a holy family. We listened to the reading of Fr. Boyle's book while we ate lunch at DeMontreville Retreat Ctr for Holy Men in Lake Elmo, MN.

thank you krista tippet & Fr. Boyle whose compassion through service to gangs reminded me of my volunteer street work with a Quaker project for the NYC Bowery homeless, then as a community organizer which led to directing a self help program in the 70's. The homeless, yearning to connect, to belong, were valued, counseled & when stabilized, were encouraged to help the more needy homeless & in the daily duties of running the community multi service center. Many became members, counselors, short order cooks & countermen in the luncheonette, or got jobs in the wider community, or invited on the board of directors. At times, I helped someone directly to shelter or the sobering up station. I felt no separation: the divine light within that person was the same as the one within me. I never felt so whole.
i am grateful to Krista & Fr Boyle.

I had the privilege of hearing Fr. Boyle and a few of his homeboys talk to a group of high school students. Wonderful!

i was raised /skooled in the Catholic church 1961- 79 by Franciscans and mom and dad Not in that orderthey werevtoo. compassion community action were the order of those days.

please explore the 'small c' version of catholic

"It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater. It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love"
"The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through “com-passion” is a cruel and inhuman society. Yet society cannot accept its suffering members and support them in their trials unless individuals are capable of doing so themselves; moreover, the individual cannot accept another's suffering unless he personally is able to find meaning in suffering, a path of purification and growth in maturity, a journey of hope. Indeed, to accept the “other” who suffers, means that I take up his suffering in such a way that it becomes mine also. Because it has now become a shared suffering, though, in which another person is present, this suffering is penetrated by the light of love. The Latin word con-solatio, “consolation”, expresses this beautifully. It suggests being with the other in his solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude. Furthermore, the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is an essential criterion of humanity, because if my own well-being and safety are ultimately more important than truth and justice, then the power of the stronger prevails, then violence and untruth reign supreme."

These words are from a wise man, one who understands the heart of man. I would say that Fr. Greg has lived them.
I laud most of all that he sees service as a means not an end. Activism is one of the most dehumanizing aspects of modern society. It too easily kills the soul of good works. Communion and Encounter are the end.

I laughed, I cried, I prayed. As a deacon in Atlanta we work with many of the same issues. The approach of acceptance, respect and love produces positive outcomes. How can you love those in need? We by faith are called to make a difference.
One smile for a chaplain in court or the federal prison here in Atlanta opens the doors to new life for those most in need

Had the privilege of meeting with "G" at Homeboy Industries. An amazing man surrounded by amazing young men and women whose life stories filled me with hope. Father Boyle's "no matter what" spirit has inspired me to start a social enterprise here in Philadelphia. His book is a must read.

Habemus Homie!

I listened to this today and was just in awe and deeply, tenderly moved by Father Boyle's wise, compassionate, humorous words.
What a wonderful human being who wholeheartedly embodies God's love.

omg. thank you, thank you, thank you both for such an inspiring conversation. Although I've accidentally heard several of your shows over the past few years, after hearing this one I've finally realized that ON BEING (and you, Krista) are hands down my favorite program on the air. I so appreciate the way that your programs integrate your heart, mind, and soul. Thank you, Father Boyle, for being such an incredible voice for the God that has sustained me throughout my life - it's so sad that I so rarely find voices like yours. I can't tell you how exciting and refreshing it was to hear you today. I will be sharing this with everyone that I know for quite some time. I don't really have the words to describe my reaction to so many of the things that you shared during this interview. Looking forward to reading your book.

As good as the program was with Fr. Greg Boyle, last Sunday I went to the website to listen to the unedited version, even though nothing in the program suggested that it would be available. Nothing additional. Today my chagrin from a week ago was allayed because the unedited version is now posted. I can't tell you how much it means to me see that. There were things said in Krista's commentary that spoke to the unedited version, which spoke to me as a Catholic Christian as things that need to be said... and heard. I'm grateful for On Being as a resource in my life, for the broadcast themselves and the unedited versions and other resources that you provide.

Absolutely beautiful and inspiring. I feel that this podcast was a gift from God for my Lenten journey. Thank you.

I love what you do. I'm a commercial driver. I listen to On Being every Sunday and it is such a pleasure to here of all the good that is still going on despite all the chaos. I thought you would appreciate knowing that there is one more person out there listening and feeling so grateful for those that are working towards improving the lives of others. I listen to 89.5 out of the Harrisburg area in Pennsylvania. Also 90.9 out of Philly, I'm driving so I have to change stations through out my day. God bless you all.

No interest in changing back to the original title of the show? As I listen to this wonderful interview, I think its a shame that this show has downplayed the "F" word as if it is somehow a negative.

Ms Tippett is an amazing interviewer and this was one of the best on this amazing show.

Loved this episode! Renewed and inspired after listening to it!

A true Christian will like following humanity, and help the underprivileged.

Such a charismatic,wonderful,compassionate man. God bless you

It is not Christian or Muslim or Anything...
This is the potential of us.....ordinary people
with no I am this.. or I am that...
I am not a Christian, Muslim ,Jew
I am a human being....

Listening to this inspired interview on Good Friday, April 3, 2015. Feeling deeply grateful for being reminded of God's spaciousness and God's invitation to discover our own spaciousness. Out of which can emerge the kind of kinship that Fr. Greg and his homies demonstrate.

If you do a thing in order to hire someone, you do them no favor. You need to hire them to do a job that is useful and that can have a future benefit for them. Exsmple:teaching an inmate of a prison how to run a sewing machine. That Is fine Bangladesh but useless in the United States when that person gets out of prison

I both laughed and cried at the dedication and passion Father Boyle shared with us. There should be a Homeboy Industries in every city across the nation.

What a great episode and interview. I am sharing all over the place and coincidentally have the opportunity to hear Fr Boyle speak tomorrow in my town! This interview was beautiful. When Fr Boyle talks of mutual healing in relationship it inspired me to find this quote from CS Lewis "Every now and then one meets them. Their voices and faces are different than ours- stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant...they are recognizable; but you must know what to look for. They will not be like the idea of "religious people" which you have formed in your general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but need you less. When you have recognized one of them, you will recognize the next one more easily." Thank you so much for "changing the metaphor" in your work here.

As an educator working in Los Angeles, I heard about Fr. Boyle in my early days as a teacher 20 years ago. I am reminded on the simplicity that is a life of service. I am not sure why I was called to be a teacher but, I do know why I continue this path. In serving and being with others I find my true self. Thanks Krista and Fr. Boyle for reminding me through this wonderful talk today.

Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at
April 6, 2015

The latest broadcast of “On Being” () is Krista Tippett’s interview with Jesuit priest Greg Boyle, who describes Homeboy Industries, and the former gang members, many out of prison, employed in Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. The interview begins with Krista Tippett asking Father Greg to describe his early efforts to forge treaties among gangs in the area, which Boyle frames as his failed attempt at "peacemaking,” as treaties were routinely broken. Beginning with a bakery, the non-profit bakery has become an incubator for enterprises catering especially to gang members leaving prison.
I am reminded of Edwin’s Café () outside Cleveland, created by a chef who is an ex-prisoner, which trains people out of prison in culinary arts, restaurant management and now in sustainable agriculture; reminded of the fact food services have been an avenue from prison to the free world, and so have food and other micro-services, notably in restaurants and bakeries, across the country. With all the occupational barriers to employment for those who have been incarcerated, it is ironic that the avenue open widest for ex-prisoners is to pay them for the food they create, customers trusting that what they sustain themselves with is safe and healthful.
I am reminded, too, of a utopian vision I wrote in Paul Jesilow’s and my Myths That Cause Crime 30 years ago ( , p. 190):

Prison industries could be democratic, worker-owned enterprises including, as board members, other groups such as guards and crime victims. Worker-owner prisoners could leave prison belonging to the same enterprises extending into the free world. For instance, make a product in prison, and worker-owner prisoners could market the product upon release. Prisoners could own and be responsible for the major sources of their livelihoods inside and then outside prisons. They could share profi ts and business decisions with their guards and their victims in the process. As I see it, if and when such co-operation happens, there is no question whether it will work. The political challenge is whether powers that be dare try.

That would be utopian. Father Greg and others have created communities of employment and care that make peace with ex-prisoners and gang members real. I’m sending this post to Fr. Greg and to Krista Tippett to suggest that Fr. Greg has not turned away from peacemaking. He has turned from trying to make peace among gang members by getting them to stop violence in a way that created failure, by attracting them instead to a place of loving, mutual acceptance and respect. He has turned from imposing a regime to creating what Lloyd Ohlin called a legitimate opportunity structure. To my mind, peacemaking embraces the possibility of creating safe community—even as one trusted friend to another—as an alternative for victims of violent circumstances to find security. To continue stuck on a path to making peace treaties enforceable was generating its own disorder. To be responsive enough to failure on one path toward peace to respond in another direction is peacemaking itself—in the case of Homeboy Industries, peacemaking that works. Father Greg, I’d say you have let the spirit of peacemaking lift you out of determination to impose peace. Hearing you is a treat. Love and peace, hal

This priest is the embodiment of everything that Christians and especially Jesuits values. He is a great psychologist as well, understanding the importance of attachment in human development and putting it into action.
I am so impressed, I wish I could work with him.

I find I cannot stop the tears as I listen to Greg Boyle. I don't really know why. His ordinary wisdom, his selfless humility that takes the focus off of himself and his stories that are both humorous and deep. He has almost the comic timing of a Robin Williams who returns me to that part of us that is so human. I can't wait to read tatoos on the heart.

I will listen to this over and over again. I will listen when I need to connect to compassion. Thank you !

I'm a long-time listener, and it's interviews like this one that make me a faithful fan of On Being!

We have something similar here in St. Louis. A local businessman has started a bakery that employees homeless individuals. He pays them a wage, gives them work experience, helps them find housing and most importantly provides them with a sense of accomplishment and self worth. It's called Bridge Bread and grew out of a program for the homeless that is in a local Methodist Church.We sell this bread at my church and we use their bread for Communion.

Fr. Greg Boyle is the definition of compassion and inspiration. I stand in awe of the measure of compassion he is selflessly able to bring to others. What an incredible work of service he has done to see the good in people and taking that leap to give all a chance and hope in life. Especially when there are no guarantee's. This pod cast really reflect what it is to be human and the relationships we have with others brings Gods presence to all in love and kindness. With service brings kinship which makes this world a better place.

I have found I have a new mantra as well and find myself chanting, "Now. Here. This." With life often getting busy we forget to see and recognize what is happening around us. This is a great reminder to stay in today and be present. Not just for ourselves but other's as well.

I found the broadcast with Father Greg Boyle to be very inspiring and uplifting. The joy and delight that he has with the former gang members is evident when listening to the broadcast. To me Father Boyle exemplifies what a pastor or priest should be like; out in the real world living and working side by side with those in need. The broadcast also shows just how much respect and opportunity can change a persons outlook in life. Bravo to Father Boyle - your work is an example of how things should be done all over the country and that respect, faith and humor can work wonders on the soul.

Greg Boyle –The Calling of Delight
As a correctional officer I have some contact and knowledge about gang life and activity. It is of no surprise to me that there are strong organizations that support growth and employment of former gang members. I don’t say this because I know of organizations like Homeboy Industries. I say this because a majority of the gang members that I have had experiences with tend to place great passion and devotion to self-worth and pride. This passion can be focused to result in doing well and producing great things. Father Greg Boyle says “You want to infuse young people with hope when it seems that hope is foreign.” Hope is what focuses this passion. When you and I are aware that we are capable of doing good things we will do them. In most cases that Father Boyle explains, we can see that troubled youth are unaware of the great things that they are capable of until we show them and assist them in succeeding in these things. Great things, in troubled youth’s eyes, can be accomplishments that you or I see as simple and normal, everyday, things.
My experiences have allowed me to see that these individuals are extremely strong. Strong in many aspects; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We are presented with this when Father Greg Boyle is sharing his stories with us. Abuse, neglect, drug and alcohol use, and mental health are serious issues that thrive in gang societies. Troubled youth and adult members to overcome these extremely difficult barriers should be praised and rewarded. This first step would be the most difficult. However it would be the start of the hope and light that guides them into achieving these amazing things. Around the 37:30 mark a gentlemen in the audience asks about Father Greg Boyle’s experiences with the justice system. Father Boyle brings up hope and equality. Introducing these things at an early age can have positive questions. In Father Boyle’s words, these troubled individuals …”can’t see their way clear to transform their pan, so they continue to transmit it.” This transmitted pain is what we, outside looking in, recognize as typical “gang activity.” If we can provide light and clarity to these people, we can assist them in transforming their pain and transmit hope and this amazingly positive energy.
Father Greg Boyle shares three words that hold great importance to him. When these words are placed in order we can see that he places great importance on the present. Now. Here. This. I feel that this is important in developing the mind to focus on what is happening NOW. What is wrong with the situation HERE? THIS is what I need to do to fix it. Focusing on the present can allow us to see what the future holds for us.

I am so thankful that you interviewed Fr. Boyle and that I stumbled upon your podcast! I have a new metaphor, now, with which to start changing my own (and I hope the larger) world. That is, our "requirement" is so startlingly simple -- stand in the low place, stand with others and find your kinship with them, find your delight and awe in them, and you will be returned to your yourself as the others will be returned to themselves. That is all that (in all honesty) any of us can really do, and that is all that really needs done.

Thank you!

I was deeply struck by Father Boyle's comment that service is the hallway to the ballroom - that the goal of service is not service itself, but the kinship, the sense of connectedness, to which it leads.
I had not put these ideas together in this way before, but as soon as he said it, I knew it was profoundly true in my life and in my chaplaincy in a women's prison.
It was a most joyful epiphany.
Thank you.