Father Gregory Boyle, who has championed rehabilitation of former Los Angeles gang members for more than three decades, will be keynote speaker at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Southern California commencement ceremony June 9, 2023 at the Long Beach Convention Center’s Terrace Theater.
In recognition of his groundbreaking work educating, employing, and inspiring thousands of troubled youth and young adults, President Dr. Michele Nealon, Psy.D., will award Rev. Boyle a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.
“We are honored to have Father Boyle speak to our 275 graduates about his life’s work rehabilitating individuals whom society have shunned,” said Dr. Nealon. “Father Boyle is the rare visionary who is passionate and practical—someone who is able to find solutions to what appear to be intractable problems.”
Rev. Boyle was originally scheduled to speak at the 2020 commencement, which was cancelled due to the pandemic lockdown.
Named a “Champion of Change” by former President Barack Obama in 2014, Rev. Boyle has been widely honored for his work, including receiving the Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics.
A Los Angeles native, Rev. Boyle entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) immediately after graduating from Loyola High School in 1972. Over the next dozen years, he earned a bachelor's degree in English from Gonzaga University; a master’s in English from Loyola Marymount University; a Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology; and a Master of Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, now part of Santa Clara University.
From 1986 to 1992 Rev. Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights,
Where he witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence during the “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 Rev. Boyle started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises. Homeboy now supports around 10,000 men and women a year, offering therapy, classes, services, job training, and employment at Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Café, or Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery.
At the center of it all is founder Rev. Boyle, who describes his work as “radical kinship,” accompanying those who come through Homeboy at virtually every step of their journeys at Homeboy and beyond.
Rev. Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. Other books he has written include Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, and The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness.
“We are all invited into this exquisite mutuality where there is no us and them,” Rev. Boyle said. “Once we know that we are unshakably good and that we belong to each other, we can roll up our sleeves … and create anew this place of love and belonging that God would recognize.”
About The Chicago School of Professional Psychology:
Integrating theory with hands-on experience, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology provides education rooted in a commitment to innovation, service, and community for thousands of diverse students across the United States and globally. Founded in 1979, the nonprofit, regionally accredited university now features campuses in iconic locations across the country (Chicago, Southern California, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Dallas) and online. To spark positive change in the world where it matters most, The Chicago School has continued to expand its educational offerings beyond the field of psychology to offer more than 30 degrees and certificates in the professional fields of health services, education, counseling, business, and more. Through its engaged professional model of education, commitment to diversity and inclusion, and an extensive network of domestic and international professional partnerships, The Chicago School’s students receive real-world training opportunities that reflect their future careers. The Chicago School is proud to be a part of TCS Education System, a nonprofit, integrated system of colleges and universities that works collaboratively to advance student success and community impact. To learn more, visit www.thechicagoschool.edu.