Jean Vanier

A look at a Modern Day profit.

Calling to serve:

In his youth, Jean Vanier received an education in both English and French. During World War 2, he and his family fled France during the Nazi occupation. He spent most of the war at an English naval academy, preparing as a career as a naval officer. In 1945, Jean and his mother went to assist the survivors in the Nazi concentration camps, which was Jean's moment of revelation that set his life on a course of service. Seeing the Jewish faces of fear, sadness and despair, Jean Vanier felt a strong inner vocation to do something else for the world, instead of working in the navy. In 1960, he resigned from the English naval commission and he travelled to Paris to study as an undergraduate. He received a PhD in philosophy from the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Mission & Challenges

In 1964, through Vanier's friendship with a priest named Father Thomas Philippe, he became aware of the plight of thousands of people institutionalized with developmental disabilities. Jean Vanier invited two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to leave the institutions where they resided and live with him in France. He also assisted in institution schools. He expanded his efforts and established L'Arche at Trosly-Breuil, France, a community for people with disabilities to live with those who cared for them. He helped develop such communities in other places around the world. Until the late 1990s, Jean Vanier carried the responsibility for L'Arche in Trosly-Breuil in France, and for the International Federation of L'Arche. He stepped down to spend more time counseling, encouraging and accompanying the people who come to live in L'Arche as assistants to those with disabilities. Today, L’Arche is present in 35 countries worldwide, and as Jean has stated, he hopes he is “Changing the world, one heart at a time.”

Morality and God's Golden Rule

Arguably the most central and fundamental teaching of the Church is to "Treat others the way you would wish to be treated" which is the same beliefs held by the people of L'Arche who are working to support the needs of people who are unable to support themselves. Also Jean is fighting for the basic rights of Human beings who are born with developmental disabilities which includes the rights to community and a place with loving people to be nourished in.

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