You Are My Neighbor Explores Boundless Compassion

The Southside Catholic Peace and Justice Committee, in coordination with local organizations and faith groups, will host the next You Are My Neighbor event, “Disrupting Violence,” Thurs., Apr. 11, 7 p.m., St. Barnabas Church, 10134 S. Longwood Dr. The presentation features Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., author and founder of Homeboy Industries, along with local Chicagoans working on anti-violence initiatives.   

Fr. Boyle is the author of the New York Times-bestseller “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion” and founder of Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention program in the world. In his Apr. 11 presentation, he will talk about his experiences in the poor and violence-prone neighborhoods where he began his ministry 30 years ago which led to founding Homeboy Industries.  

With Father Boyle as its leader, Homeboy Industries has grown from a small community effort to a $20 million organization that provides opportunities for young people in poor and isolated neighborhoods to change the direction of their lives through resources that “disrupt” the effects of past violence and trauma. 

Leading up to the event, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 9401 S. Oakley, invites are residents to join in exploring the theme “Boundless” at midweek Lenten discussions Wednesdays through Apr. 10. “At a time when the divisions between people seem to be growing stronger and more painful, Father Boyle’s work reminds us that God calls us to boundless love. We hope to explore practical ways to build peace by ‘standing with’ one another in solidarity and love,” said Bethlehem Pastor Jennie English-Dumont. More details can be found on the congregation’s web site, www.bethlehem-chicago.org. 

In his presentation in April, area residents will hear Father Boyle tells the stories of trauma and hope, and how a community built on the virtues of boundless love and radical kinship encourages us all to embrace the humanity and dignity of all of our neighbors, no matter how we differ by race, income, class and experience.   

Homeboy Industries provides opportunities for young people in poor and isolated neighborhoods to change the direction of their lives through resources that “disrupt” the effects of past violence and trauma. Services include counseling, high school classes, job readiness preparation, day care services and tattoo removal.  

Southside Catholic Peace and Justice, together with a coalition of local churches and organizations, has hosted two You Are My Neighbor events focusing on the plight of refugees and immigrants in our country. Both events drew close to 1000 attendees 

“The success of these events is the result of the community collaboration that took place among our churches and grass roots organizations,” said Maureen Gainer Reilly, one of the organizers. “The invisible lines that sometimes exist in Beverly/Morgan Park between residents and faith communities are fading by building relationships and focusing on our shared hopes for our neighborhood and City.  

These groups followed the example set by the community leaders who hosted the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” campaign, a collaborative neighborhood effort in 2016 to raise awareness and stem gun violence in the city for a single day.