"If there is a fundamental challenge within these stories, it is simply to change our lurking suspicion that some lives matter less than other lives." - Father Boyle
One cold afternoon in December, 2015, I sat uneasily in a glass-enclosed lobby surrounded by some 50 other individuals, the majority of whom were scar-faced, festooned with tattoos, feared, and fear-filled men and women ... all of us were awaiting an audience with Father Gregory Boyle. This would mark one of the most defining moments of my life. What emerged three years later is Walking In Grace.
In 1988, while gang life in Los Angeles ran rampant, a Jesuit priest named Father Boyle - G, G-dog, Pops, or Dad, as he is affectionately called - walked and bicycled through the corridors of East Los Angeles, convincing gang members to leave gang life behind. Where others saw common criminals, Father Boyle saw individuals who were bereft of any hope or vision for a better life.
Walking In Grace is an authentic portrayal of hope, dignity, reconciliation and transformative healing. Captured in penetrating photographs and accompanied by intimate stories and poetry written by former gang members, it opens a compassionate window into their valiant determination to become valuable contributors to their families, communities, and society at large. This 200 - page book commemorates 30 years of Homeboy Industries and the thousands of young men and women who have walked through its doors seeking a second chance at life - those who were never offered a first.
“It’s about a lethal absence of hope, it’s about kids who can’t imagine a future for themselves. It’s about kids who aren’t seeking anything when they join a gang. It’s about the fact that they’re always fleeing something.” - Father Boyle
I am humbled beyond words by the men and women I have come to know through their willingness to entrust me with their intimate stories of former gang life, including the many tragedies and struggles they have endured. They have demonstrated heroic strength in transforming a life of violence, abuse, and drugs to a life of leadership, mentorship and positive role modeling. Having walked side-by-side with the amazing souls portrayed in this book, I simply stand in awe.
Preeminent photographer, Michael Collopy, internationally known for his remarkable portraits of public figures, is the insightful and passionate photographer for this book. He has been an inspiring mentor to Eddie Ruvalcaba, a graduate and resident photographer of Homeboy Industries.
Walking In Grace is beautifully weaved together by the hard earned words of wisdom of Father Gregory Boyle.
I invite you to walk alongside the heroic men and women of Homeboy Industries. With your support, you will help to make their hopes and dreams of a new and better life a reality.
Walking In Grace is now available.
Proceeds will be donated directly to Homeboy Industries, supporting gang intervention and rehabilitation.
With kindness and gratitude,
Alison Fogg Carlson