Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, of Homeboy Industries Speaks at Sacred Heart Center in Richmond

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month September 15 to October 15, Sacred Heart Center in Richmond invited Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, and Fabián Debora from Homeboy Industries, Los Angeles to share with Richmond’s English and Spanish speaking communities their work of compassion, rehabilitation and healing.

Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, and Fabián Debora of Homeboy Industries spoke about escaping the world of gangs and drugs.

On Tuesday evening, Sept. 27, more than three hundred people, some from as far away as Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Roanoke, packed Sacred Heart’s gymnasium across from Sacred Heart Church. Fr. Boyle spoke of the work done to bring dignity and respect back to the young men and women who had been trapped in the world of gangs and drugs. He also signed copies of his best-selling book, Tattoos on the Heart. A lively Q & A session followed along with refreshments representative of the month’s celebration.

On Wednesday evening, Sept. 28, Fabián Debora took the spotlight and, in Spanish, shared his story of growing up in the projects and using art as an escape from the realities he faced daily. He described his spiral into the gang and drug culture but also his miraculous recovery that has led to his being Director of Substance Abuse Programs at Homeboys and also an exhibited artist and muralist. Projections of his artwork accompanied the talks. 

As a prelude to Wednesday’s presentation, seven members of Sacred Heart’s Latino Leadership Institute received Certificates from the School of Professional and Continuing Studies of the University of Richmond. They have successfully completed a three semester, sixty-hour program of classes, community involvement and advocacy work focusing on issues such as driver identification cards for all residents of Virginia and voter registration. They are now involved in projects throughout the Richmond area that serve and advocate for the Latino population.

Members of Sacred Heart Center's Latino Leadership Institute received their certificates from the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond. The center's director of leadership, Fr. Jack Podsiadlo, SJ, is on the far left.

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