June 1, 2010

Jesuit-run Homeboy Industries Lays Off Most Employees

Homeboy IndustriesThe Jesuit-run Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the country's largest anti-gang program, has laid off most of its employees because of a decline in donations.

Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, who started Homeboy Industries in the Boyle Heights neighborhood twenty years ago, said 300 people were laid off, including all senior staff and administrators.

For two decades, Homeboy Industries has offered counseling, removed tattoos, and helped gang members find jobs. Its motto: "Nothing stops a bullet like a job."

Fr. Boyle said no amount of campaigning and fundraising could make up the roughly $5 million the organization needed to operate. He said pleas for donations had resulted in some help, but not nearly enough.

The only employees not laid off were more than 100 who work in the organization's businesses, including its store, bakery, and Homegirl Cafe. Fr. Boyle said that for the moment, the social services offered would continue because employees said they would keep coming. Eventually, many will need to find work elsewhere.

Read more about Homeboy Industries financial situation at the Los Angeles Times; to donate to help Homeboy Industries, visit the Homeboy online donation page. [Los Angeles Times]

A Jesuits Revealed video of Fr. Boyle, produced by the Jesuit Conference's Vocation Promoter, is at http://www.youtube.com/user/jesuitsrevealed#p/u/16/TyQY0ZP9U24.

Company magazine stories on Homeboy Industries:

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Xu Ricci Institute of Dialogue opens in Shanghai on Ricci Anniversary

Matteo RicciThe Institute of Dialogue Xu-Ricci opened at Fudan University in Shanghai to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Jesuit Matteo Ricci's death on May 11.

The institute launched with a seminar to celebrate Fr. Ricci's contributions to dialogue between East and West.

The new center is named after the Jesuit missionary and his closest Chinese friend, Paul Xu Guangqi, the first Catholic in Shanghai. According to French Jesuit Benoit Vermander, co-director of the institute, it is the first Chinese academic center to combine these two names.

The purpose of the structure is to promote academic research, the teaching of religious studies, and comparisons between Chinese and Western cultures and philosophies.

Xu Ricci Institute of Dialogue forumThe seminar on May 11 was attended by 70 teachers from China and abroad, working in the field of economics, philosophy, and religious studies. Participants discussed inter-religious dialogue and the challenges facing the Chinese and global communities.

Afterwards, the digital edition of the "Grand Ricci," a French-Chinese Dictionary, was presented to the public at the Shanghai Museum. The dictionary, which is considered the most extensive text to compare Chinese and a foreign language, is published by the Ricci Institute of Taipei. [Source: UCANews]

Pictured: A painting of Ricci (top) and participants at the Xu Ricci Institute of Dialogue forum

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The Society Opens its Doors in Rome

Jesuit Fr. Flavio BottaroThe Society of Jesus is celebrating its 470 anniversary by opening the doors of some of its oldest buildings in Rome, like the St. Mary Assunta Chapel, which has never been open to the public.

The initiative is called "Unexpected Connections: Journey to the Heart of the Society," and it includes guided tours by Jesuits.

To see some of the tour and hear from Italian Jesuit Fr. Flavio Bottaro on the project, watch the video here. [Rome Reports]

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U.S. Jesuit to Head Pontifical Oriental Institute

Jesuit Fr. James McCannPope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr. James McCann, SJ, rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. Fr. McCann is currently head of the U.S. Bishops' Conference Office to Aid the Church in Central and Eastern Europe; he will assume his new position in September 2010.

Fr. McCann entered the Chicago Province in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1979. He earned a licentiate in theology from Centre Sèvres in Paris, a master's degree in Russia and East European Studies from Yale University, and a doctorate from Princeton University in Political Science with a specialization in Russia and Eastern Europe. [Electronic News Service SJ]

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Jesuit Peace Activist to Get Pacem in Terris Award

Jesuit Fr. John DearFr. John Dear, SJ, who has been jailed for his efforts to end war and nuclear weapons proliferation, will receive the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award October 31 at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

Fr. Dear said he is honored and humbled to be chosen for the award he will receive. "It's one of the greatest awards in the Catholic Church in the United States. I've known about it since I was 21," Fr. Dear said. "A lot of people who have received the award are friends of mine. It's a great honor. But it's also an affirmation, an encouragement to keep working for peace."

Fr. Dear, a prolific writer and speaker, attempted to "beat swords into plowshares" by hammering on an F-15 nuclear fighter bomber at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. He was arrested December 7, 1993, for his actions and, along with peace activist Phillip Berrigan, spent eight months in North Carolina county jails.

Fr. Dear says he's been arrested more than 75 times for actions stemming from his peace activism. He doesn't expect everyone to follow his lead, but this is what he feels compelled to do. [Catholic News Service]

Related: Company magazine's article, "The Long View", features Fr. Dear and other Jesuits who confront violence and injustice in the world.

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Around Campus

Boston College Jesuit's Nonprofit Transforms a Teardown into a Home for the Needy

An abandoned house in Boston has been refurbished and dedicated for a low-income family, thanks to Matthew 25, an ecumenical and interfaith non-profit founded by Fr. Fred Enman, SJ, Boston College Law School Chaplain and Assistant to the Dean of Students.

The abandoned house was purchased several years ago from the City of Boston by Matthew 25, which was founded in 1988 to provide food and housing relief to people in economic need.

All of the interior demolition was completed by law students and undergraduate students from Boston College, who also assisted in the rehab process with interior painting, staining, and preserving woodwork.

This was Matthew 25's first house project in Boston, where the group hopes to develop additional homes. Until now, most of the organization's work has been in Worcester, Mass., where it has rehabilitated seven abandoned houses that now provide homes for 13 families.

When the restorations are completed, the apartments are rented to low-income tenants at a percentage of their income (about 25 percent). [Boston College]

Pictured: Before and after shots of a Matthew 25 house in Worcester, Mass.

Related: In Company's article, "Before & After," Fr. Enman writes about Matthew 25.

Gonzaga Law School Project Aims to Support Economic Systems in Alaskan Villages, U.S. Reservations

The Gonzaga University School of Law's Institute for Development of Economic Policy for Indigenous People is launching a three-year pilot project to invigorate and support sustainable economic systems within select Alaska Native villages and American Indian reservations.

The pilot project will bring together Alaska Native and American Indian leaders with academic leaders from Gonzaga Law School and students in a joint effort to study and analyze economic issues.

The pilot project will focus on the study and analysis of economic and other policy issues identified by participants and the assessment of whether public policy and the rule of law could provide a foundation to support economic activity for Alaska Natives and American Indian people. [Gonzaga University]

Creighton's Sustainability Efforts Increase with New Alternative Energy Project

Creighton University will harness Nebraska's sunshine and wind as the university begins assembling a large array of solar panels and wind turbines at various locations across campus. When completed, the solar array will be the largest in the state.

The alternative energy project will be part of a new degree program for students studying technology and applied science in the College of Arts and Sciences. They will have research opportunities to assist with the building of the solar array, which will be located in a university parking lot.

Creighton University Physics Professor Michael Cherney said the new educational program in energy technology will be designed to train future leaders in the field so that they possess the scientific expertise needed as well as an understanding of related social issues. [Creighton University]

The Wall Street Journal Reports on the Cristo Rey Model

Cristo Rey studentsOn May 20, the Wall Street Journal reported on the Cristo Rey model of education, which was started by the Jesuits in Chicago and today comprises 24 high schools that provide a quality, Catholic, college preparatory education to urban young people who live in communities with limited educational options.

The piece, written by the Journal's Daniel Henninger, talks about the success of the Cristo Rey model of education and the value of Catholic schools. Read the full story.

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