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


Stewardship Corner

Weekly Updates from our Stewardship Commission


Brothers and sisters: What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.

Monday, August 10, 2020
Or pandemics or racism? Same answer. In the reading from Matthew, Jesus is grieving for John the Baptist, who has just been executed in the prison... Read More

“Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart.”

Monday, August 10, 2020
I have a New American Bible, revised, that translates this passage with “a listening heart.”  I have also seen this translated as... Read More

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought,

Sunday, July 19, 2020
The full text of Romans 8:26-27 (which wouldn't fit in the blog title) is: Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for... Read More

“The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2020
In today’s gospel, Jesus talks about four reactions to the word: lacking understanding, falling away due to conflict, faith choked by worldly... Read More

Dear Lord, teach me to serve you as you deserve,

Saturday, July 4, 2020
Last Sunday St Therese hosted a Vigil for Social Justice in our parking lot. It is now available on our Facebook page. Before I mention a bit... Read More

Dear Lord, teach me to be generous;

Thursday, July 2, 2020
Last week, Father and parish leadership published a letter about the twin crises that are facing our nation and community. The letter had three... Read More

"What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."

Saturday, June 20, 2020
In the expanded quote in today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid” not once, not twice but three times! He knew that many... Read More

"Do not forget the LORD, your God, who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock."

Wednesday, June 17, 2020
A people in a “parched and waterless ground”? Sounds like the story of African Americans for the past 400 years. From slavery to the... Read More