features

Why You Should Go to Fr. Greg Boyle’s Nov. 9 Talk 

Kelly Gallagher ‘22
Senior Advisor 

Back in the simpler days of October 2019, I was in The Spire’s office talking with one of our Editors-in-Chief at the time, Billy Fitzpatrick ‘20, about Rev. Greg Boyle, S.J. I’d only just heard of him, but Billy, on the other hand, was a big fan, and he told me he hoped Fr. Boyle would be the Commencement Speaker for the Class of 2020. While someone else was chosen as the Commencement Speaker (has anyone heard of Anthony Fauci?), the campus community will now have the opportunity to hear from Fr. Boyle on Nov. 9, when he comes to give his talk “‘Be Fearless for Me’: Courage and the Gospel of the Marginalized.” 

Now, I’m not religious—to be honest with you, I wasn’t entirely clear on what a Jesuit was until I came to the College of the Holy Cross. So where did my interest in Fr. Greg Boyle come from? And why do I think you should go to his talk? 

I heard of Fr. Boyle for the first time in a Spring Break Immersion Program info session, a few weeks before chatting with Billy. I had heard great things about the Program from lots of friends, and I was interested in trying a new experience, but I was a bit intimidated because I didn’t know what to expect from a service trip. During the talk, the leaders discussed the program’s attitude about service. They used the works of Fr. Greg Boyle to frame the goal of the trip: it wasn’t to go out and “save” the world, it was to go out and “savor” it. 

Now, what does that mean? I interpreted it as meaning that the point of the trip wasn’t to go out and help people—it was to go out and get to know them. I learned later that Fr. Boyle’s perspective was born out of his experience working with gang members in Los Angeles. Troubled by the gang violence he saw in his community while working as a pastor, in 1988 he began working to support former gang members as they strived to improve their lives. His efforts eventually developed into Homeboy Industries, which is now the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world. The organization’s website describes their approach, which was considered “radical” at the time of the program’s inception: “treat gang members as human beings.”

It was the quote about going out to “savor” the world that convinced me to participate in the Spring Break Immersion Program. The importance of building relationships with others resonated with me, and if SBIP was an opportunity to build new relationships, then I was eager to give it a shot. My reframed understanding of what the goal of service could be has influenced my entire experience as a Holy Cross student, seeking to be a woman “for and with others.” I’ve been more deliberate about trying to “savor” the world and build connections with the people in my life. (BTW, Spring Break Immersion was amazing, and I highly recommend it if you want a new opportunity to “savor” the world!)

So why do I think you should go to Fr. Boyle’s talk, if you have the opportunity? Because it could be a really eye-opening experience about the importance of building community with others and about how to do so. Because it might inspire some new ideas about how to make the most of your life on the Hill and beyond. Because it might influence you to seek out amazing new opportunities you might have otherwise been too shy to explore. 

Fr. Boyle will be accompanied by “homies,” former gang members who are now a part of his organization, for his talk. The lecture is organized and supported by the McFarland Center. The Hogan Ballroom will host the event, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9. The talk will also be livestreamed. The link is available on the McFarland Center’s page. 

Image courtesy of Valentina Moran ‘23

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