A native Angeleno and Jesuit priest, from 1986 to 1992 Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city.
Father Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in the late 1980s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, he and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings.
In 1988 they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.
Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His new book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, was published in 2017.
He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, President Obama named Father Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics. Currently, he serves as a committee member of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Economic and Job Recovery Task Force as a response to COVID-19.