Jean Vanier

Catholic philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian

Vanier was born September 10, 1928 in Geneva Switzerland, but is a Canadian citizen. During World War II Jean spent most of his time at an English naval academy where he was training to be a naval officer.

In early 1945 Vanier was visiting Paris where he and his mother went to the overthrown Nazi concentration camps to assist survivors. Jean, seeing all of these victims with pain clear on their faces, was left with a very profound affect.

Jean stayed with the Navy up until 1950, but at this time he was having  strong inner spiritual callings to do something else with his life. He resigned and went back to school for a PhD in philosophy. Vanier eventually found himself teaching philosophy in Toronto, but once again left his job to pursue more spiritual work.

In 1964 Jean Vanier became aware of the struggle of thousands of people who were institutionalized with developmental disabilities. He took it upon himself to invite two men to leave the institution they were in to come and live with him instead. Soon Vanier expanded his efforts and established the L'Arche foundation, a non-profit community for people with disabilities to live with those who care for them. (video 0:55 - 3:21)

The mission of L'Arche is to: make known the gifts of people with disabilities, foster the development of communities that can respond to members' changing needs, and engage with local cultures while working towards a more human society. L'Arche is able to achieve this mission by providing people with disabilities someone to assist them as well as a place to live, and by helping encourage personal growth.

Within the bible it can be found in many places that we as christians have an obligation to help those in our community, especially when they are in a time of need.

"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” ACTS 20:35

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." GALANTIS 6:2

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." JOHN 15:12

Through his actions Jean Vanier has been able to fulfil his mission he set out for those who are intellectually disable, as well as going above and beyond God's expectations for us to be caring and loving to everyone around us.

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