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Tattoos on the Heart

Page history last edited by msellar@marymountpv.edu 8 years, 9 months ago

Library Guide


2011 One Campus One Book:  Tattoos on the Heart


Every year the Marymount College campus selects one book to read and discuss as a community which many professors integrate into their curriculum and campus departments develop programming that leads to a deeper understanding of the book's themes.  For 2011, the selected "One Campus One Book" is  Tattoos on the Heart written by Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J. the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang rehabilitation program in the country.   He made a mark on his community and impacted the lives of those around him. As a true embodiment of Marymount's mission of service in our local communities we invite you to gain inspiration from these stories of perseverance, survival and love for individual human potential.






Book Summary


In this artful, disquieting, yet surprisingly jubilant memoir, Jesuit priest Boyle recounts his two decades of working with homies in Los Angeles County, which contains 1,100 gangs with nearly 86,000 members.  Boyle's Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention program in the country, offering job training, tattoo removal, and employment to members of enemy gangs.  Effectively straddling the debate regarding where the responsibility for urban violence lies, Boyle both recounts the despair watching kids you love cooperate in their own demise and levels the challenge to readers to stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.  From moving vignettes about gangsters breaking into tears or finding themselves worthy of love and affirmation, to moments of spiritual reflection and funny banter between him and the homies, Boyle creates a convincing and even joyful treatise on the sacredness of every life.  Considering that he has buried more than 150 young people from gang-related violence, the joyful tenor of the book remains an astounding literary and spiritual feat.  - From Publisher's Weekly Starred Review



About the Author


Fr. Gregory Boyle – best known as Fr. Greg by all who meet him -- has been an advocate for at-risk and gang-involved youth in Los Angeles, and around the world, for over 25 years.  Boyle was ordained a priest in 1984, having received his BA in English from Gonzaga University; an MA in English from Loyola Marymount University; a Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology; and a Sacred Theology Masters degree from the Jesuit School of Theology.


Homeboy Industries traces its roots to “Jobs For A Future” (JFF), a program created in 1988 by Boyle at the Dolores Mission parish in Los Angeles. In an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth, Boyle and the community developed positive alternatives, including establishing an elementary school, a day care program and finding legitimate employment for young people. JFF’s success demonstrated the model followed today that many gang members are eager to leave the dangerous and destructive life on the 'streets.'


As Executive Director of the nonprofit Homeboy Industries and an acknowledged expert on gangs and intervention approaches, Boyle is a nationally renowned speaker. He has given commencement addresses at numerous universities, as well as spoken at conferences for teachers, social workers, criminal justice workers and others about the importance of adult attention, guidance and unconditional love in preventing youth from joining gangs. Boyle and several “homies” were featured speakers 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. Boyle is also a consultant to youth service and governmental agencies, policy-makers and employers. He serves as 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 Center for Juvenile Law and Policy in Los Angeles. Previously, he held an appointment to the California Commission on Juvenile Justice, Crime and Delinquency Prevention.


Boyle has received numerous accolades and recognitions on behalf of Homeboy and for his work with former gang members, including the California Peace Prize granted by the California Wellness Foundation in 2000 and the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from MALDEF. In 2007, he received the Bon Appétit magazine “Humanitarian of the Year” Award and the Caring Institute’s Caring People Award. In 2008, Boyle was honored with the Civic Medal of Honor by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Irvine Leadership Award conferred by the James Irvine Foundation.  This December, he will be inducted into the California Hall of Fame.


Father Boyle’s first book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, was released on March 9, 2010, which received the 2010 SCIBA (Southern California Indie Booksellers Association) Non-Fiction Book Award and was named as one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly. The 2010 Goodreads Choice Awards finds Boyle nominated as Best Debut Author and his book is nominated in the Nonfiction category (winning announcements in January 2011).

Homeboy Industries, now located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, is recognized as the largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the county, and has become a national model.



Campus Events


Campus-Wide Book Discussion:  Friday, 10/21, 12:00pm in the Auditorium


Homeboy 5k Run/Walk:  Saturday, 10/29, 8:30am, Downtown LA


Fr. Gregory Boyle Speaking Event:  Thursday, 11/10, 7:00pm at the Warner Grand Theater



Discussion Themes


gangs, Los Angeles, compassion, kinship, unconditional love, redemption, value of individuals, transformation, community, sacredness of life, Christian work with juvenile delinquents



Additional Resources






  • Former Gang Members and Father Greg Boyle talk about "Tattoos on the Heart":




  • Homeboy Industries featured on explore.org, a philanthropic multimedia project of the Annenberg Foundation that showcases cutting-edge non-profit efforts around the world through documentaries, short films, video moments and photography:


Homeboy by explore 





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