Fr. Greg Boyle preaches hope, love at luncheon

DOWNEY - Father Greg Boyle, founder of the largest gang rehabilitation and reintegration organization in the nation, offered words of hope and inspiration when he served as keynote speaker at Wednesday's Gangs Out of Downey fundraiser luncheon at the Rio Hondo Event Center.An ordained priest, Boyle is the creator of Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries, which has been providing jobs to former gang members since 1992. Boyle spoke briefly about Homeboy Industries's history on Wednesday, but mostly he preached a message of cohesiveness between communities and the young people "pushed" into gangs. "No hopeful kid joins a gang," Boyle said. "No one is lured - they are pushed. Misery loves company." Boyle said most gang members are "stuck in a lethal absence of hope, and the only antidote are the people in this room." "We're all in this together," Boyle said. "It's not us and them. Just us." Boyle, who quoted from Mother Theresa and used the personal stories of reformed gang members throughout his speech, received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his 30-minute talk. The annual luncheon is the chief fundraising event of Gangs Out of Downey, which works to prevent gang activity among youths. Thad Phillips, community services director for Downey, is the organization's current president. -Eric Pierce, city editor

********** Published: April 14, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 52