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May 3, 2024 — Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, today at the White House. Awarded by the president, it is often presented to individuals to recognize a lifetime of significant achievements in the arts, public service, science or other fields.

Fr. Boyle, of Jesuits West, is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the world’s largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program. His work through Homeboy Industries embodies the transformative power of compassion, forgiveness and second chances.

“Congrats, Father G. You deserve it,” Homeboy Industries posted on X on May 3. Homeboy’s clients and staff gathered in the center’s lobby in Los Angeles to watch the livestreamed ceremony on TV.

In his opening remarks at the ceremony, which honored 19 Presidential Medal recipients, President Biden talked about witnessing faith in the work of Fr. Greg Boyle, “who has changed countless lives. … Your service as a Jesuit priest over four decades reminds us of the power of redemption, rehabilitation and our obligation to those who have been condemned or counted out. Thank you, Fr. Greg, for your amazing grace.”

After receiving the award, Fr. Boyle expressed what the honor meant to him in a video posted by the White House: “For me, it represents … standing at the margins so that the margins erase and especially representing thousands and thousands of men and women who’ve walked through our doors wanting to reimagine their lives.”

After graduating from Loyola High School of Los Angeles in 1972, Fr. Boyle entered the Society of Jesus. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1984 and then served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Los Angeles before founding Homeboy Industries in 1988.

Fr. Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship (2017).

He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, President Barack Obama named Fr. Boyle a “Champion of Change.” He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics.

Learn more about Fr. Boyle and the other honorees here.

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