A repeated denial by Jesuit officials to return Father Greg Boyle to the Dolores Mission parish has not dampened the efforts of many Pico-Aliso community residents, who have continued to rally for the return of the man they call "G-Dog."
At a Feb. 21 meeting with Father Paul Belcher, head of California's Jesuit order, 40 of the more than 100 community residents and friends who crowded the Dolores Mission School's cafeteria pleaded with Belcher to reassign Boyle to the community.
"I know that if we can have his wisdom here, I know this shooting and killing can come to an end," said Breavon McDuffie, president of the Aliso-Pico Housing Project. ". . . Greg was our support. So we do need him here and we need him here in a desperate way."
In the two hours they spoke, the residents and activists recounted personal experiences with Boyle, described the increase in gang violence since his departure last summer and talked of his work in the community.
Wanting Boyle back "doesn't mean we don't love our other pastors," said community activist Teresa Soto. "We love and respect them but we need Father Greg here."
Despite the requests, Belcher again said Boyle would not return to Dolores Mission--or East Los Angeles. His answer evoked tears and anger among many of those at the meeting, including some youths who smashed two windows of Belcher's car.
But several attendees said their efforts would not end at the meeting. The next day a group of residents gathered to talk about ways to ease the gang violence and new ways to assure Boyle's return.
The residents met with Father Tom Smolich, pastor of Dolores Mission, to discuss the process of the Jesuit order and how to tackle gang problems.
"There is so much the church has been able to do and now we have to look to other ways of dealing with this (gang violence) problem," said Leonardo Vilchis, a worker with the local Comite para la Paz, a women's organization that works with gangs.
Vilchis said the community's goal is to get funding for a program to work with gangs and have Boyle return as its expert.
Boyle, who had worked in the community for six years as a pastor of the Dolores Mission parish, was reassigned last summer for a 30-day stay of silence in Michigan before moving on to other temporary assignments. He believed he would return to Pico-Aliso in June, but the California Province of the Society of Jesus reassigned him last month to an undisclosed location in the state.