Tattoos on the Heart Book Project BY natalie barclaY


The Preface talks about what Fr. G has done with his life. He was encouraged to write this book by family and friends after being diagnosed with cancer. Fr. G works with girls and boys coming from gangs. He's worked hard to make Homeboy Industry what it is today. I admire his dedication and the change he's made in.

God, I Guess

The title of this chapter comes from a homie responding to Mike Wallace, an interviewer. Mike asks why they trust Fr. G to not turn them into the police and the homie responds, “God, I Guess.” This is really inspiring to me because they are able to fully trust their life in God's hands. I could learn from them to be more trusting and vulnerable. Throughout this chapter it tells the stories of homies putting their life in God's hands and God working in their lives. My favorite story is with a homie named Scrappy. He spent many years building his reputation and he regretted it. After years of mistakes he comes to Fr. G wanting help. He was able to be vulnerable and trust him with his future.


At the beginning of the chapter there is a women that is a heroine addict, gang member, and prostitute. She comes to Fr. G crying and calling herself a disgrace. Addictions are rooted in shame. This chapter tells stories of homies feeling shame. For example, on the Fourth of July two homies get in a fight and trash part of the Homeboy Industries office . The girl, Candy claims Danny is the culprit. Danny is pulled aside by Fr. G and feels shame for what he's being accused of and cries that he didn't do it. Fr. G respects him and trusts him. Danny didn't want Fr. G to think less of him and he felt shameful. We all feel shame sometimes and it's good to find the root of it.


Fr. G taught a course at Folsom Prison. There were a couple minutes left and he had nothing else planned so he decided to touch on the words sympathy, empathy, and compassion. The inmates came up with examples for sympathy and empathy but got stuck on compassion. After minutes of silence an inmate speaks up saying compassion is God. We are in the world who is God. Jesus has room for everyone in his compassion. Compassion does not randomly come but rather it is always in or around us. All the stories in this chapter touch on the compassion of Fr. G and the homies.

Water, Oil, and Flame

Fr. G is on his way to baptize a homie just out of jail named George. On his way to the ceremony Fr. G gets the news that George's brother, Cisco was killed. He performs the ceremony and afterwards tells George the news. Fr. G usually expects the homies to get angry and seek revenge but George does the exact opposite. He wept, taking his baptismal promises seriously. Water symbolizes purity, oil is apart of baptism, and the flame symbolizes passion. This chapter continues to tell stories where these symbols are alive and clear.

Slow Work

This chapter is all about how things take time. Some homies seemed like they'd never come around but they did. After saying mass at Camp Munz one day, Fr. G goes around to the inmates giving them his card. An inmate named Grumpy got angry and loud. A couple months later Fr. G sees Grumpy, along with others from the camp. Grumpy gives Fr. G a big hug and whisper into his ear that he would like his tattoos removed. It took a while for Grumpy to appreciate the help offered but he eventually did. This is inspiring because I sometimes get frustrated with things that take time.


The title of this chapter was inspired by a homie that was often drunk. The homie tells Fr. G that he was in his jurisdiction. Fr. G makes the connection that we all need to know that we are in each other's jurisdictions sphere of acceptance. Some people choose to put up walls and not accept others. Some people accept everyone. This chapter taught me that i should break down my wall and try to accept more and more people into my life.


This chapter is titled Gladness because all the stories told show the happiness in situations. Fr. G talks about his fathers battle and lose against a brain tumor. Fr. G's parents had been married for 48 years and they savored every moment they had together. The wife brings her husband a pillow from their home. Fr. G catches his father turning to savor the smell of the women his father has utterly loved for years. Although the whole situation is terribly sad, there is gladness in this moment. This inspires me to make the best of ever situation and see the stillness and purity.


Success is not how much money you have. Success is accomplishing goals or improving for the better. We are here on earth to be faithful not successfull. The stories in this chapter are not success stories but rather faithful stories. One story I admired was when a homie let Fr. G cry out to him. Fr. G is always there for the homies and always stayed strong and now a homie is returning the favor.


Being in kinship with someone starts with knowing that you both are equal. Nothing separates Fr. G from the homies. When Fr. G found out he had cancer, he got so many calls from his homies. He felt this kinship more than ever in these moments. A homegirl, Lala, told Fr. G is was their turn to care for him. This taught me to appreciate the kinships I already have.

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