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Death of Jean Vanier, Founder of L’Arche


t is with great sadness and sorrow that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) learned of the death of Jean Vanier yesterday, 7 May 2019.

Born to former diplomat and Governor General of Canada, Major-General Georges and his wife Pauline Vanier on 10 September 1928 in Geneva, Switzerland, Jean Vanier spent much of his childhood living in France and England as well as Canada. While he served in both the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy, he left to pursue a more spiritual calling to live his life guided by the Gospels. He pursued his studies and completed a PhD in philosophy from the Institut Catholique de Paris in 1962. A visit to a small village in France with an institution that housed men with intellectual disabilities, prompted him to learn more about them and the sufferings they endured. In 1964, he purchased a small home and invited two men with disabilities to leave the institutions where they resided and live with him. This became the first community to become known as L’Arche – a place where people with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers journey through life together. It was in Canada, in Richmond Hill, Ontario, that the second home was established in 1969 and where he launched what was to become the present-day International Federation of L’Arche Communities consisting of 154 residential communities in 38 countries on five continents that welcome some 10,000 members.

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Canadian Conference 
of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)
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Ottawa, Ontario K1H 2J2
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