50 years as a Jesuit priest on a mission of redemption, and the homies say thanks to Father Greg Boyle, who passed away last week.
“He’s a man you can really relate to. When you see him you can see somebody who had faith in God. He looked at the world from a God-centered point of view. He was a man who was not a man that we would expect to go to church, but he went to church,” said Father Greg Boyle, the vicar general in charge of the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre.
“He was very faithful in his faith, but he was also very human. He loved his wife and his family, and he loved his community.”
Boyle was born in Washington, D.C., in 1958, and attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., on a scholarship. His father was a priest, and his mother was a schoolteacher.
After graduation, Boyle chose for himself a mission to God and entered the Jesuit novitiate in Baltimore, Md.
There he met a young sister, Sister Catherine, who became his lifelong partner and best friend. Boyle met with his superiors at the time and they offered him a post as a missionary priest to China. Boyle was in his mid-30s, old enough to make the decision, in his words, “to go through life without regrets,” because the missionaries knew that was the only way to serve God. It worked. “I got to see China.”
Boyle joined the first group of Jesuit missionaries that travelled to the Chinese mainland in 1978. He was assigned to the China Education Development Mission and assigned to a parish church in Liling, Guangdong Province. From 1983 to 1984 he served in Shanghai, before going to the Philippines and then to Hong Kong.
In 1985, Boyle was transferred to the mission in the Philippines. He led the missionary group there through the first Gulf War, which left the country in the middle of the Second World War. The military action began to take its toll and the priests had to leave the Philippines after the war ended in 1991.
But Boyle had not only seen the suffering of the past, he had also seen God bring healing to it. “I saw God bring healing and I saw the Church bring healing,” he said.