Spiritual Heroes

We celebrate Jean Vanier as our Spiritual Hero this week.

Jean Vanier, (1928 – ) is a Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian. In 1964 he founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them.

He continues to live as a member of the original L’Arche community in Trosly-Breuil, France. Over the years, he has authored 30 books on religion, disability, normality, success, and tolerance.

Vanier has established 147 L’Arche communities in 37 countries around the world which have become places of pilgrimage for those involved. He travels widely, visiting other L’Arche communities, encouraging projects for new communities, and giving lectures and retreats.

During one of his lectures he touched on his distaste for barriers around people with intellectual disabilities, a motivating philosophy behind L’Arche: “We must do what we can to diminish walls, to meet each other. Why do we put people with disabilities behind walls?”