Jean Vanier, Our founder
“The lives lived within L’Arche’s communities, their influence, are a tangible sign that peace between human beings is possible whatever their religion, intellectual or physical abilities, culture or nationality. The way of life proposed by L’Arche transcends cultural, economic, religious and national bounds.”
Famous philosopher, author and humanist, Jean Vanier is first and foremost the founder of two international organisations dedicated to people with intellectual disabilities: L’Arche and Faith and Light. Living with them for nearly 50 years, Jean Vanier has become their most ardent advocate. He has played an important role in changing society’s perceptions of disability.
In addition to his commitment to tolerance, rights and relations with people with disabilities, Jean Vanier encourages us to recognise the qualities and transformational capacity that these people offer society when they are supported and loved.
The beginnings of L’Arche in Trosly
In 1964, the Canadian Jean Vanier met Raphaël and Philippe, two men with intellectual disabilities confined to a psychiatric hospital. With them, he created L’Arche’s first home, in Trosly, near Compiègne, France. Other people with disabilities along with volunteers from all backgrounds, attracted to the home’s way of life, soon rallied to L’Arche. The home became a community and, in just a few years, rapidly spread around the world.
The beginning of L’Arche in Belgium
It was in 1973 that Father André Roberti S. J. met Jean Vanier and decided to make the Le Toit home in Brussels a part of L’Arche’s international network. The home rapidly became a support and social centre for people with disabilities, professionals and volunteers, from all backgrounds, but all passionate and committed to the same cause: changing society’s perceptions of people with disabilities.