Humanitarian Jesuit Priest Father Gregory Boyle will give the keynote address at Whittier College's 111th Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 16, 9 a.m. in Memorial Stadium on the Whittier College campus. During the event, at which approximately 360 undergraduate and graduate students are expected to receive their degrees, Boyle will also receive an honorary degree from the Whittier College faculty: a doctorate of humane letters (L.H.D.).
Boyle is best known for his work with Homeboy Industries, a non-profit organization based in East Los Angeles that serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women with a continuum of free services and programs, and which operates seven social enterprises that serve as job-training sites. Founded in 1988, Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention, rehab and re-entry program in the United States.
As a reflection of his work with Homeboy Industries, Boyle has received numerous honorary degrees, awards, and recognitions including the Civic Medal of Honor, the California Peace Prize, Humanitarian of the Year from Bon Appetit Magazine, and in 2011 was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. He has served on the State Commission for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, The National Youth Gang Center Board and the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Task Force.
Boyle is also the author of the New York Times Bestselling book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His debut book has been honored by SCIBA (Southern California Indie Booksellers Association), Pen USA, Publishers Weekly, and Goodreads Choice Awards.
Before founding Homeboy Industries, Boyle taught at Loyola High School in Los Angeles; was chaplain in the Islas Marias Penal Colony in Mexico and at Folsom prison and worked with Christian Base Communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He was appointed pastor of Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1986 where he served through 1992.
Boyle was born in Los Angeles and is one of eight children. He entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1972 and was ordained a priest in 1984. He received his BA in English from Gonzaga University, an MA in English from Loyola Marymount University and advanced theology degrees from The Weston School of Theology and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.