News / May 2024

Father Gregory Boyle, S.J. is a Recipient of The Presidential Medal of Freedom

Los Angeles (May 4, 2024) – Homeboy Industries is proud to announce that its Founder, Father Gregory Boyle, S.J., received The Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. in a White House ceremony that took place on Friday, May 3rd. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the United States’ highest civilian honor.

“This recognition is heartening because it honors the many thousands of men and women who have walked through our doors at Homeboy Industries since 1988,” said Father Gregory Boyle, S.J., Founder of Homeboy Industries. Adding that, “It acknowledges their dignity and nobility and the courage of their tenderness. It underscores for us all, the invitation to no longer punish wound, but seek its healing. It recognizes the need to invest in people and to create together a community of cherished belonging.”

Father Greg’s ministry through Homeboy Industries exemplifies the transformative power of compassion, forgiveness, and second chances. For decades, Father Greg has empowered hundreds of thousands of individuals to break free from cycles of poverty, violence, and incarceration. His unwavering dedication to building bridges across divides and promoting understanding through compassion, kinship and tenderness underscores the importance of empathy and connection in creating a more harmonious society.

Founded as Jobs for the Future in 1988, Father Greg’s relentless commitment to standing with the most marginalized  has led to Homeboy Industries being the largest rehabilitation program in the world for formerly incarcerated, gang involved people. Homeboy’s healing centric program serves nearly 10,000 people in Los Angeles annually while acting as a global model for hundreds of orgnaizations in the U.S. and around the world who have been inspired by Father Greg’s work as part of the Global Homeboy Network.  In 2020, Homeboy Industries was the recipient of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, awarded to Father Greg and Homeboy Industries for its extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering.

“Father Greg’s message of hope, redemption, and the inherent worth of every individual transcends cultural and ideological boundaries, inspiring people from all walks of life to come together in community to help those who live on the margins of our society,” said Thomas Vozzo, Chief Executive Officer of Homeboy Industries.

In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Father Greg launched Homeboy’s first social enterprise in an abandoned bakery across the street from the church that generous donors helped them purchase. They called it Homeboy Bakery. Thirty-six years later, this first social enterprise business, Homeboy Bakery, has evolved into 13 social enterprises. In addition to the job training and its purposeful work model, Homeboy Industries provides relationally based, holistic services that include tattoo removal, legal, educational and housing services, substance use disorder support, mental health and wellness. The work in all areas is trauma informed, providing a therapeutic community of wraparound services focused on whole person healing. Homeboy Industries provides healing and alternatives to gang life, while creating more inclusive, safer, and healthier communities.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Father Greg entered the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, in 1972 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Gonzaga University, a Master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, a Master of Divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology, and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

Father Greg is the author of three books, including the 2010 New York Times-bestseller, “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.” He has received the California Peace Prize and is in the State of California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Father Greg a Champion of Change. He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics.