“We don’t hire homies to bake bread. we bake bread to hire homies.”
Homeboy Industries, the passion project of an L.A. priest, has brought life reboots to hundreds of former criminals, including onetime gang members and the fallen CEO of mega-construction company KB Home.
Read the feature story and see more photos->
I missed this article somehow when it came out last year, though we’ve long been Homeboy supporters (and now I want to figure out how to do more).
There were two other quotes from Father Boyle that really hit me right in the gut, both quotes you see clearly are in heavy rotation as part of his work:
"You are exactly what God had in mind when he made you."
"You are so much more than the worst thing you’ve ever done."
I have been privileged to do a lot of work with faith leaders over the years, from the Jesuits running food kitchens in Chicago who helped me retrain my automatic associations about what it meant for someone to truly serve Jesus, to the black churches that refused to be silent about AIDS to the many Methodists and Episcopalians and Unitarians who were leaders in the fight to include queer people in their churches.
And in that time I’ve heard a lot of variations on those two maxims, but almost always in the context of reassuring lgbtq people that they were welcome. The similarity—especially coming from the same kind of progressive clergy—makes sense, because the aching need is the same: the bone-deep work to validate the lives of people who have been so ostracized that they so easily doubt this most basic right to exist.
But it’s also a perfect example of why I love, love, love feature writing as a genre. This is a story that works because so many of the moments that you are told about second- or even third-hand, the kind of apocrypha that can’t be recreated by even the best documentarian.
This is a story about crime and punishment and redemption and justice and love - and it’s a story that could only be written. It’s a story that reminds me why I am a writer.