Our 2014 Alpha summer reading assignment for incoming freshmen is Tattoos on the Heart by Fr. Gregory Boyle.
For twenty years, Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, he distills his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.
Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally. From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God's love. From ten-year-old Lula we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro we understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness. In each chapter we benefit from Boyle’s gentle, hard-earned wisdom.
These essays about universal kinship and redemption are moving examples of the power of unconditional love and the importance of fighting despair. Gorgeous and uplifting, Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.
As Executive Director of Homeboy Industries and an acknowledged expert on gangs and intervention approaches, Fr. Gregory Boyle – best known as Fr. Greg by all who meet him – is a nationally renowned speaker. He has given commencement addresses at numerous universities, as well as spoken at conferences for teachers, social workers, criminal justice workers and others about the importance of adult attention, guidance and unconditional love in preventing youth from joining gangs. Fr. Greg and several “homies” were featured speakers at the White House Conference on Youth in 2005 at the personal invitation of Mrs. George Bush. In 1998 he was a member of the 10-person California delegation to President Clinton’s Summit on Children in Philadelphia. Fr. Greg is also a consultant to youth service and governmental agencies, policy-makers and employers. Fr. Boyle serves as a member of the National Gang Center Advisory Board (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention). He is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy in Los Angeles. Previously, he held an appointment to the California Commission on Juvenile Justice, Crime and Delinquency Prevention. Read his full bio
The book selected by our Alpha Seminar faculty for all incoming freshmen to read this summer is Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Fr. Greg Boyle. In the book, the Jesuit priest describes his experience launching Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles, California, as "the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the United States." The book should be read before moving to campus in August and will be a featured text in all sections of our freshmen seminar program, Alpha Seminar
You can purchase Tattoos on the Heart at several online retailers: