Gutsy' Priest Talks to Gang Members About Another Way Out of Their Life of Crime, Besides Going to Jail

According to NBC Boston, 79-year-old Father Richard Conway makes a point to walk around Boston's Dorchester neighborhood as often as he can. But he isn't just trying to get some fresh air. Rather, Conway is trying to build bonds with the neighborhood's gang members and at-risk youth.

Father Conway knows that he has the power to change the crime-ridden neighborhood, and he's making sure to do his part. Approaching at-risk youth and gang members seeking a better life, Conway offers after-school activities and job openings. Discussing his personal approach to bettering his community, Conway told NBC Boston:

"You look at the gospels, and what was Jesus doing? He was out there talking to people. You can’t do it behind the desk, you can’t do it in the office. I think you have to be out where the people are.”

The approach that Father Conway takes appears to be working. He's built strong bonds with members of the community, who greet him as he walks down the street. Conway offers blessings, even in Portuguese, to those he encounters.

In the nine years Father Conway has spent at the church in Dorcester, he's made a point to become involved with the community. “Fifty percent of the families in this neighborhood here are single parent. They don’t have the time to get involved," said Conway.

In addition to trying to intervene and help young members of the community avoid getting into trouble, Conway does his part for those who have already gone down the wrong path in life.

By regularly visiting members of the community who are already incarcerated, Father Conway hopes to support them both while they spend time behind bars and after their release.

Father Conway holds Dorcester close to his heart, saying:

“I pray for the neighborhood every day. I pray for the neighborhoods of our three parishes, two of the neighborhoods have had a lot of violence, I also pray every day for the people who have to work in those neighborhoods. The police, the fire, the street workers. They are there all the time and you hope they are going to be safe.”

But Conway doesn't just pray for the neighborhood, he does everything in his power to help. Even going as far as to try to negotiate truces between rival gangs in the neighborhood, Conway isn't afraid to get involved in issues that others might try to avoid.

For Father Richard Conway, going out and trying to make a difference in the lives of struggling members of his community is all in a day's work.