Good article about the work, from the National Catholic Register.

An excerpt.

LOS ANGELES — The scourge of gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has driven tens of thousands of migrants into the U.S. and other Central-American countries.

But the two major gangs that control whole swaths of these countries, MS-13 and the 18th Street gang, are not native to the region: They are a U.S. export straight out of Los Angeles.

“MS-13 started in the Pico Union area,” said Father Stan Bosch, a psychologist with years of experience as a pastor in gang-ridden Compton, Calif. “They were young fellows, 14 or 15 years old, who had watched their parents literally beaten and decapitated in front of them.”

The Catholic Church in Los Angeles is actively engaged in ministering to gangs, healing lives touched by gang violence and trying to address the root causes of gangs to prevent young people from getting entangled in them.

Father Bosch explained that Salvadoran youth who formed MS-13 and 18th Street originally came to the U.S. after fleeing the violent civil war that gripped their home country. They formed gangs to protect themselves against existing African-American and Asian gangs and to find a common identity in a larger society from which they felt excluded.

“They came together to form a gang relationship partly out of desperation, partly out of the common experience of trauma and partly for survival,” he said.

Retrieved August 7, 2014 from