Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2012, 7:08 pm

LA priest to bring message to Davenport church

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By Claudia Loucks,

Photo: Claudia Loucks / correspondent
Kris Atwell, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, holds a copy of the book, 'Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion,' written by the Rev. Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest in Los Angeles, Calif., who will speak at 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21, at St. Paul Church. Public is invited.
DAVENPORT -- Battling Los Angeles gang-violence has left a Jesuit priest with some heart tattoos.

The Rev. Greg Boyle, an award-winning author of the book "Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion," will be a featured guest speaker at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 2136 Brady St., as part of its free communitywide Faith & Life Series.

The church is just south of Vander Veer Park in Davenport.

In his book, Rev. Boyle writes a series of parables inspired by faith and his gang-intervention work.

He has conducted nearly 200 funerals caused by gang-related violence.

His essays about universal kinship and redemption are ''moving examples of the power of unconditional love,'' St. Paul communication associate Lauren Miller said.

Rev. Boyle's been battling the Los Angeles gang problems through street ministry and by creating jobs, she said.

"In 1988, Father Boyle founded Homeboy Industries, now located in downtown Los Angeles," Ms. Miller said.

The program provides legitimate employment and positive alternatives for young people, she said.

"Homeboy Industries is the largest gang 'exit' program in the country. An urban dictionary defines 'homeboy' as a close friend. Homeboy Industries provides training and support and is comprised of a complex of ex-gangster-run businesses, including a bakery, silkscreen shop and the Homegirl Cafe," she said.

These positive alternatives to life on the street allow recently incarcerated men and women to redirect their lives and become contributing members of their communities, Ms. Miller said.

"Father Boyle's sparkling parables about kinship and the sacredness of life are drawn from 20 years of working with gangs in LA," Ms. Miller said.

He was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1982, received his Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology and a Sacred Theology Master's degree from the Jesuit School of Theology.

Rev. Boyle received the California Peace Prize, the "Humanitarian of the Year" Award from Bon Appetit, the Caring Institute's 2007 Most Caring People Award and the 2008 Civic Medal of Honor from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

St. Paul Lutheran's guest speaker series is in its 14th year, Ms. Miller said.

''Each fall, St. Paul congregation hosts the communitywide Faith and Life Series," she said. "The church brings persons of national stature to the Quad Cities -- sparking new ideas about what it means to live faithfully."

The church has hosted other prominent church leaders throughout the nation as speakers such as Joan Chittister, a Catholic visionary, and Mark Allen Powell, New Testament professor.

Its not-for-profit congregational resource center will be open before and after the Oct. 21 presentation. The bookstore features Rev. Boyle's book and other titles on faith.

For more information, call the church at (563) 326-3547.