On November 2, six De Smet Jesuit students participated in a Teach-In, "Mercy in the City – Street Strategies," co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Saint Louis University. Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., spoke about his ministry with Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. The Teach-In was designed for high school students with an interest in social justice and a desire to learn from others' experiences as well as the Church's teachings on poverty and racism. The workshop included personal testimonies from gang members, comments from Fr. Boyle and small group discussions.
Fr. Boyle tied many of his remarks to the theme of "kinship." Following is a sampling of the insights he shared:
-Kinship creates a circle of compassion; we belong to each other
-If there's no kinship, there's no peace
-Create a community God would recognize. Go from here so other voices get heard.
-Create a community of tenderness. The highest form of theology is tenderness
-Go to the margins, stand with those who have burdens that are too much to bear
-If kinship was our goal, we wouldn't be promoting justice, we'd be celebrating it
-We're all in need of healing
-Infuse hope, heal the damaged and traumatized
-You are exactly who God made you to be. Nothing can contain the hugeness of that.
-Recognize that you are the shape of God's heart
-It is impossible to demonize people you know
-Help them know they are worthy, value them
-Receive others through listening to them
Max Conway '19, Colin Donovan '18, Matt Dunn '19, Grant Jenkins '18, Brendan Kemp '19 and Grant Stegman '19 participated in the Teach-In, accompanied by faculty members Mike Callahan and Ken Luecke.
After reading some of Fr. Boyle's writings in theology class during his junior year, Grant Jenkins was interested to hear him speak in person. He especially appreciated the interactive structure of the day and shared, "Some of the best advice I heard came from a former gang member in our group. He told us if we remember to love small things genuinely then a lot can be accomplished in today's world."
"Fr Boyle's advice is applicable for all of us," added Dr. Callahan. "He puts his beliefs into action. When a former gang member would come to Homeboy Industries to work or for help, he trusted the process and knew that everyone deserves another chance. He would put former gang rivals together in a working situation, knowing that eventually, once people knew each other, that they'd get along.
"It's important to go to events like this to hear different perspectives and grow as leaders," said Matt Dunn. "I learned a lot about kinship and how to develop a community of love and acceptance. Fr. Boyle made one point that I think applies to De Smet, 'The Church is not a place you come to, it's a place you go from'.""As a storyteller, Fr. Boyle is the quintessential role model of 'kinship'," said Ken Luecke. "Every story was shared as if it were happening in real time. As he speaks, his voice quivers as his heart aches! Fr. Boyle is totally present to whomever he is with – a wonderful example for each of us in our relationships with others."