It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Jean Vanier, our founder. Jean died on the 7 May in the Maison Médicale Jeanne Garnier in Paris.
"Jean has left an extraordinary legacy,” said L’Arche International Leader Stephan Posner. "His Community of Trosly, the Communities of L'Arche, Faith and Light, many other movements, and countless thousands of people have cherished his words and benefited from his vision."
Vanier founded L'Arche in 1964 in response to the treatment that people with learning disabilities faced in institutions. There are now more than 150 L’Arche communities in 38 countries around the world, where more than ten thousand people with and without learning disabilities create places of welcome and celebration, sharing in life together.
There are 12 L’Arche Communities in the UK. John Sargent, National Leader of L’Arche UK, said: "Jean’s death is a great sadness. His vision was one of radical welcome, inclusion and joy, where each person is valued and celebrated.
"He will be greatly missed by people from all walks of life who have been influenced and changed by the witness of his life and his teachings, which remain as relevant today as ever.
"We are committed to continue to live out his vision in our L’Arche and Faith & Light communities.”
In recent decades, after he retired from his role at L’Arche, Vanier focused on his work sharing a message of unity, dignity and diversity. Jean entrusted the organisation’s legacy to the people who define what L'Arche is today: its members and Communities.
In addition to his work with L’Arche, Vanier co-founded Faith and Light, and inspired the creation of many other organisations. He influenced thousands of people around the world and published some forty books on how people with learning disabilities make essential contributions to building a more humane society.
“The fundamental principle of peace is a belief that each person is important. Do you believe you are important? Do you believe that we can do something to make this world a better place?”
‘So as you’re stripped away from all that is not the primal innocence, there is something then which is the only thing which is at the heart of the universe, is what brings everything together, and that is love.’
Jean Vanier founded L'Arche in 1964, after becoming aware of the plight of thousands of people with learning disabilities who were institutionalised in France. He was an inspiring teacher whose life was testament to a radically different way of living and being in the world.