We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.
Since my early days at LMU, I’ve been a fan of Father Greg Boyle. I was lucky enough to go on an Alternative Break trip my junior year to East LA and learn more about the deeper journey of Fr. G & the community of Boyle Heights.
I can’t emphasize enough how much I value the Jesuit education I received at LMU & how much Fr. G is tied to that experience. He epitomizes everything I love about becoming a woman with and for others, the reasons why Catholicism drew me in so much, and my journey towards building peace and justice in the world around me.
I have always struggled with unconditional love. Right now, as I type those words, I’m thinking of a conversation I had with my dear friend Emmy and a great mentor of mine, Maria. Emmy, to me, encompasses what Unconditional Love is all about. I’ve never been able to simply see somebody’s beauty, to embrace somebody even if I feel disdain, jealousy, bitterness, or whatnot. But Emmy has always shown me the light, helped me to understand the value in appreciating another person, in loving them unconditionally, in seeing God in them. To me, this is what Fr. G is all about, too. He spoke at LMU this past week about some of his stories, in promotion of his book, “Tattoos on the Heart.”
Fr. G can say the word Kinship and mention its value and beauty a million times over and I could never grow tired of it. He expresses in words and in action everything I want to be. I hope I can continue to work with and for others, to build deep relationships, to love others, to see past mistakes, pain, and hardship, and to help those around me turn on the light in their lives. I want so badly one day to say that I unconditionally love everybody around me, that I have built kinship with every being that I’ve encountered.
What Fr. G has done in East LA, the community, the family that he’s built at Dolores Mission parish, Homeboy Industries, Homegirl Cafe, etc., are all extensions of the love that he’s shown people. The unconditional love, forgiveness, openness, and acceptance that he displays. I’m so humbled to have experienced those communities while I was at LMU. I hope that one day I can take my kids to Dolores Mission and tell them the stories I heard, the things I’ve witnessed, the love I’ve both given and received. I’m so happy that I finally got to hear him speak in person, so glad to know that Homeboy Industries is fighting through this tough economy, and I hope that I and my friends & family can contribute in some way. I dream of a future where Fr. G’s vision and love are felt throughout the world and Homeboy Industries is so valued in our society for all they do that we do not need to hold virtual car washes or lay off hard working men and women.