I am flying down to Anaheim today for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. This event draws people from all over the country and even some other parts of the world. The attendance is usually over 40,000. My mom is coming with me this year as well as our pastoral associate.
My friend Matt from Alaska, who will also be attending the RE Congress, has arranged for us to go on a tour tomorrow of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. It was started by Fr. Gregory Boyle who has had a special ministry to gangs and prisoners.
Here is a brief description of what they do from their website:
Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Each year over 10,000 former gang members from across Los Angeles come through Homeboy Industries’ doors in an effort to make a positive change. They are welcomed into a community of mutual kinship, love, and a wide variety of services ranging from tattoo removal to anger management and parenting classes. Full-time employment is offered for more than 200 men and women at a time through an 18-month program that helps them re-identify who they are in the world, offers job training so they can move on from Homeboy Industries and become contributing members of the community - knowing they count!I will helping with Confessions on Friday and have signed up for workshops with Bishop Robert Barron, Mark Hart, Fr. Jonathon Morris, and Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.
I will have the opportunity to visit with a good friend from the seminary and usually bump into people I went to school with at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo. (Yes, I'm bracing myself for comments about how gray I have become and am ready with my comeback of Proverbs 16:31 which says, "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by a life that is just".)
It should be a great trip and hopefully I'll come back with all kinds of new ideas and insights to share with St. Brendan parish.