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Fr. Gregory Boyle Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fr. Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest and a popular Preacher of the Week last summer in Lakeside, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on May 3, 2024, the highest civilian award in the United States. The Lakeside community congratulates Fr. Boyle on this prestigious honor.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is presented to “individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values or security of the United States, world peace or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.” 

Lakeside is honored to announce that Fr. Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world, will return as Preacher of the Week from July 20-25, 2025. 

During his visit last summer, Lakesiders gathered in Hoover Auditorium for Faith for Living Hour to hear his inspiring and challenging messages of faith. Known as a “modern mystic,” Fr. Boyle is a much sought-after preacher and speaker.  

From 1986-1992, Fr. Boyle served as Pastor of Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. The church was the poorest Catholic parish in the city and had the highest concentration of gang activity. 

Fr. Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “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, Fr. Boyle, the parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings. 

In 1988, they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of individuals who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life. 

Fr. Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, followed by Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship and The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness. Most recently, he authored Forgive Everyone Everything, an anthology of writings accompanied by Fabian Debora’s artwork. 

Fr. Boyle has also received the California Peace Prize and has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame.


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