Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, has been named Nation Builder of 2008 by the Toronto Globe and Mail. The award is given annually to an outstanding Canadian who unifies and inspires the nation. The newspaper earlier endorsed Vanier as a candidate for the Nobel prize.
A lecturer and writer, Vanier created an international network of communities in which people with and without intellectual disabilities live together in a spirit of equality and camaraderie. There are now more than 130 chapters of L’Arche in 36 countries around the world, including 16 in the United States.
Vanier has written that the inclusive model of the L’Arche communities offers a message of hope and peace, and helps people remember what it means to be human in a world full of crisis and violence.
The organization strives to build caring relationships and to foster the inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities within their communities.
“… People who are weak have something to bring us, that they are important people and it’s important to listen to them. In some mysterious way, they change us. Being in a world of the strong and powerful, you collect attitudes of power and hardness and invulnerability.”
Vanier’s latest book, written with Duke Divinity School ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas, is “Living Gently in a Violent World.”
See also: Jean Vanier’s gift for living — in America, the national Catholic weekly.
Earlier post here.
(Globe and Mail photo)