St. Vincent dePaul News - Tattoos on the Heart

by Bob Mackin

Sharkey was an exasperating homie, but one who is turning his life around and doing the best he can. Father G tells him that he is heroic and courageous in transforming his life far surpassing the hollow “bravery” of his barrio past. Sharkey waits for a moment and silently stares at Father G then says “Damn, G…I’m going to tattoo that on my heart.” 

The passage above is from Tattoos On The Heart written by Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest, also the author of Barking To The Choir. For over 30 years he has worked with gangs in Los Angeles and is the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention program in the world which includes many businesses to assist in employment and rehabilitation of gang members. The books describe many, many stories of the sad plight of gang members, but more important father’s and the homies efforts in effecting amazing recoveries. He has baptized thousands and buried over 200 so expect a tear followed by a smile and a smile by a tear maybe just a few sentences later. To say the least, his books are full of love and care and certainly spiritual inspiration. He is a dynamic and charismatic speaker with a soft touch of humor as many will attest including St. V members Cathy Saffel, Jim and Lucita Valiere, Rachel Faber Machacha, myself and others I know.

The books have significant relevance to our St. Vincent de Paul conference mission. One of the themes of both books is kinship and in our work with needy folks it’s not “them” and “us” it’s only “us,” and it is we who often receive more benefit than those neighbors we attempt to assist. Father G says that all Jesus asks is, “where are you standing?” And even if sometimes there is defeat or failure, “are you still standing there?“

At St. Vincent de Paul our motto is “We’ll Be There.” It is our conference mission and commitment to make sure we are standing with our neighbors as “us” and in the right place.

Bob Mackin rmackinatty@yahoo.com

 

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