Alternate content for script Text Only VersionSkip to Main Content

2016 Commencement Speaker Father Boyle

Portrait of Father Gregory Boyle, a caucasian male, in a brown tweed jacket and a royal blue shirt

Rosemont College is pleased to announce that the Reverend Gregory Boyle, S.J., founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, in Los Angeles, California, will serve as this year’s Commencement speaker.

Father Boyle is a member of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and was ordained a priest in 1984.

In 1986, after a year living and working with Christian Base Communities in Bolivia, Fr. Boyle was appointed pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Los Angeles, located amidst two large public housing projects and the territory of numerous rival gangs.

In an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of at-risk, gang-involved youth, Fr. Boyle and many parish and community members began to establish positive outlets, including an alternative school and a day-care program, and seek legitimate employment for these young men and women. The accomplishments of Fr. Boyle and Homeboy Industries serve as inspiration to the hearts and minds of Rosemont’s graduating students.

Fr. Boyle’s 2010 New York Times bestselling book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, received the 2010 Southern California Indie Booksellers Association (SCIBA) Non-Fiction Book Award and was named as one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly. It was also chosen as Rosemont College‘s First Year Connection Seminar (FYCS) book this academic year. The goals of the FYCS are to help students deepen three key connections: with themselves, with Rosemont, and with the larger world.

The FYCS seeks to develop skills and strategies applicable across subjects and across time, including such competencies as thinking critically, communicating effectively, accessing and evaluating information, and working collaboratively. The message Fr. Boyle spreads of “achieving through action” strikes a chord as Rosemont also strives to shape and inform future leaders through the College’s rigorous academic program.

Each year over 10,000 formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women come through Homeboy Industries’ doors. They are welcomed into a community of mutual kinship and offered a wide variety of services, ranging from tattoo removal to anger management and parenting classes and legal services. Full-time employment is offered through an 18-month program that helps homies re-identify who they are in the world and provides job training so they can move on to become contributing members of their communities.

In the aftermath of the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles, Fr. Boyle, having finished a six-year term as the Dolores Mission pastor, launched his first social enterprise business, Homeboy Bakery. Its success created the groundwork for additional social enterprises, including Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery, Homeboy & Homegirl Merchandise, Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Diner at Los Angeles City Hall, and retail presence at farmers’ markets throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

Fr. Boyle was a featured speaker at the White House Conference on Youth in 2005 at the personal invitation of First Lady Laura Bush. In 1998, he was a member of the 10-person California delegation to President Clinton’s Summit on Children in Philadelphia. He serves as a consultant to youth service and governmental agencies, policy-makers and employers.

Fr. Boyle is a member of the National Gang Center Advisory Board (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention). He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, Center for Juvenile Law and Policy. Previously, he held an appointment to the California Commission on Juvenile Justice, Crime and Delinquency Prevention.

Fr. Boyle received his Bachelor’s degree in English from Gonzaga University, Spokane, Wash.; a Master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles; a Master of Divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass.; and a Master’s degree in Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, Calif.

In 2011, Fr. Boyle was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. Bon Appétit magazine named him its Humanitarian of the Year in 2007. In 2000, Fr. Boyle was honored with the California Peace Prize by the California Wellness Foundation.

Rosemont’s 93rd Commencement exercises will be held Saturday, May 7. The ceremony will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Connelly Green, weather permitting. Fr. Boyle will address graduates of the Undergraduate College and the Schools of Graduate and Professional Studies, in addition to families, friends, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and community members.