Belonging – The Search for Acceptance

by Catherine DeAngelis

“My vision is that belonging should be at the heart of a fundamental discovery: that we all belong to a common humanity, the human race. We may be rooted in a specific family and culture but we come to this earth to open up to others, to serve them and receive the gifts they bring to us, as well as to all of humanity.”     Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, p. 36.

Jean Vanier
has been acclaimed as a “Canadian who inspires the world”(Maclean’s Magazine) and a “nation builder” (The Globe and Mail), he is the founder of the international movement of L’Arche communities, where people who have developmental disabilities and the friends who assist them create homes and share life together.

There are over 100 L’Arche residential communities in 38 countries on five continents. L’Arche International confirmed in a report summary Jean Vanier, who died in 2019 at the age of 90, had “manipulative” relations with at least six women between 1970 and 1995, relating he had used his power over them to take advantage of them through different kinds of sexual behaviours. (See Article The Canadian Press 02/22/20).

L’Arche United States also conducted an internal investigation and their report revealed similar findings to that of L’Arche International. L’Arche USA encourages anyone who has experienced or witnessed abusive behavior of any kind within L’Arche to report their concern.” (Article by Michael J. O’Loughlin 02/22/20 – American Jesuit Review)

Good, Bad or Saint

The news reaches  spiritual communities with much disappointment and sadness. Jean Vanier once a Winner of the 2015 Templeton Prize and nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work at L’Arche as founder. (Read: “How can I reconcile the good and evil of Jean Vanier? by Colleen Dulle, American Jesuit Review)

Need To Learn…

The bishop of Bristol,  Vivienne Faull, appointed by Her Majesty the Queen, is the 57th Bishop of Bristol. She said she looks forward to leading a church that shows the love of Christ to everyone, whoever they are. The Bishop tweeted in reply to the news of Jean Vanier:

“Thinking of those who had the courage to disclose, all those who have been part of the L’Arche community and all those who have been betrayed. But we need to learn what it is that produces and protects such abusers within the Christian church.”  (Bishop of Bristol)

June 2019: L’Arche International commissioned an external organization to conduct a thorough and independent inquiry in order to better understand its history, refine its work to prevent abuse and to improve its policies and procedures.

The 2015 Templeton Prize was awarded to Jean Vanier and cited for “his innovative discovery of the central role of vulnerable people in the creation of a more just, inclusive and humane society. The Templeton Prize, which has previously been awarded to Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and others, is one of the most prestigious honors in the world, and is valued at close to 1.7 million USD.”

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.

**The 2015 Templeton Prize Laureate, Jean Vanier, speaks on the Big Question: “What does it mean to be fully human?”

Jean Vanier is a Canadian humanitarian, spiritual leader, and internationally esteemed pioneer in the field of care for people with intellectual disabilities. Born in 1928, he joined the Royal Navy at age 13 and left it at 21 to begin a spiritual quest and to study for his PhD. Appalled by conditions of institutions where people with intellectual disabilities lived, in 1964 he welcomed two men to share a home with him. Thus began what has become the worldwide movement of L’Arche. In 1971, he co-founded Faith and Light, an international support network for families.

**The Inspiration and Story of L’Arche

(At the time of filming, Love and Belonging, the reporting on people with disabilities used a common, but now an outdated word “Handicap.” A Way with Words and Images (pdf download) is a reminder to be respectful of terms when writing and speaking about people with disabilities or about issues that affect their lives). We need to be factual, objective and inclusive.

Jean Vanier took as his inspiration the biblical passage from the Beatitudes that declares that the poor are “blessed.”

L’Arche believes that every person is blessed with important gifts to offer to others and that we are called to create a society in which each one’s gifts can be given and recognized. L’Arche communities reflect the cultural and religious makeup of the locales where they were founded. Thus, while in France L’Arche drew largely from a Roman Catholic population, Canadian community have welcomed people of various Christian denominations and also sometimes people of Jewish, Muslim or other faiths as well as people with no faith affiliation.

More important than the need to be loved
is the need to belong.~

“Learn more about the L’Arche Foundation and its continued efforts to improve the lives of those with disabilities by visiting the
Love and Belonging website.

 A Way with Words and Images – Suggestions for the portrayal of people with disabilities includes a Download the PDF version (1.81 MB) of this content.

Article updated 02/23/20

~All Rights Reserved~

The Power of Purpose

If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep walking. Buddhist proverb

“The world operates on spiritual and moral principles just as it does on the laws of physics and gravity. It is up to us to learn what those principles are and then to live by them.”
Sir John Templeton

A young man, Travis Powers, age 18, was asked to write an essay about the “Laws of Life.”  This may be considered a challenging question to ask a teen today, but it is a common saying that character education is about helping young people “know the good, desire the good, and do the good.”

Sir John Tempelton created the Laws of Life Essay Contest, a Character Development Program of the John Templeton Foundation. Templeton was a man with his own noble purpose.  His vision was to encourage young people to reflect and write about their own “laws of life.” This contest has spread to communities and schools around the world.   The Laws of Life Essay Contest gives youth the chance to look within themselves and decide which ideals are important to them.”  Below is Travis Powers’ winning Laws of Life Essay, taken  from Writing About Noble Purpose – pg 14-15. 

Power of Purpose Essay by Travis Powers – 18

“Purpose is an idealistic realm into which human minds sojourn frequently, seeking a resolution to “the question”: Why am I here? I have unveiled the answer to the question. I am diligently utilizing my purpose to accomplish my life goals. But the journey to this new found light of mine has not been void of turmoil. I struggled to formulate a process for succeeding in life. This process I call “the power of purpose.”

Purpose is vital to the natural human desire to succeed. Slightly more than a year ago, I lost this important desire. This loss was accompanied by a loss of everything making up who I was. The spark for my spiraling downfall was the tragic loss of my close friend, Spencer. The loss of my friend was devastating. I was simply a naïve seventeen-year-old, thinking I had life completely figured out. I soon discovered that every unique and positive quality I possessed had been stripped of me. My parents began to loathe who I had become. I was no longer the loving, benign, generous kid I had been for seventeen years. My sudden, tragic loss transformed my life into an infinite series of ellipses. My life was haunted by a nihilistic shadow, which shredded every hint of joy I once treasured. What I lacked was a purpose. All that could save me was the power of purpose.

With the help of a good friend (and counselor) of mine, I began to realize what a piteous state I was in. I was an intelligent teenager facing a mild setback (when compared to those of other people). Yet I had allowed my outlook in life to be distorted to the point that I cared about no one but myself. This is when I had the epiphytic realization that I had a purpose. I do have a reason to live. I do have enough respect for myself to do something purposeful – anything but lie in a pool of my own loathing. I discovered my purpose. My purpose is to live life to the fullest, gaining respect from those who deserve it themselves, and to selflessly affect society. I hoped for the same contagious outbreak of purpose among my friends that I had acquired. I soon began to regain all of the lost pleasures of life. My powerful decision built my road to happiness and gave me a clear purpose to follow.

A few days ago, I was informed that the subject of this essay was “the power of purpose.”  I was quite skeptical as to how powerful purpose truly was. I pondered what I considered to be my purpose and how it rescued me from what I had become. I then realized the overwhelming power purpose can bestow on anyone suffering despair in life. The power of purpose equates to the power to overcome obstacles. It provides one’s success in life, and it saved me from becoming an abhorrent, self-destructive, selfish being.”

Seekers of Wisdom

“Sir John Templeton, philanthropist and pioneer global investor founded the Templeton Mutual Funds, and for the past thirty years devoted his fortune to his Foundation’s work on the “Big Questions” of science, religion, and human purpose. In 1987 John Templeton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his philanthropic efforts. He died in 2008 at the age of 95 and leaves behind several encompassing legacies.

The Templeton Prize is of the world’s largest monetary awards at about $1 million.  It honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Established in 1972 by the late Sir John Templeton, the Prize aims, in his words, to identify “entrepreneurs of the spirit”—outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose and ultimate reality. It recognizes a person who has shown extraordinary originality in advancing humanity’s understanding of spiritual realities, including research in purpose, love, creativity, infinity, intelligence, thanksgiving, and prayer.  The Prize celebrates no particular faith tradition or notion of God, but rather the quest for progress in humanity’s efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine.”

Breadth of Vision

“The 2010 Templeton Prize recipient Francisco J. Ayalam received his award by His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace, with Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr., president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation.  Past recipients included Mother Teresa, founder of India’s Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa was recognized by the inaugural Templeton Prize (six years before she received the Nobel Peace Prize) for her extraordinary efforts to help the homeless and neglected children of Calcutta. VisionHer heroic work brought about real change among those she served and continues to inspire millions around the world.  Click here for more Previous Templeton Prize Winners.

Men and women of any creed, profession, or national origin may be nominated for the Templeton Prize. The distinguished roster of previous winners includes representatives of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The Prize has been awarded to scientists, philosophers, theologians, members of the clergy, philanthropists, writers, and reformers, for work that has ranged from the creation of new religious orders and social movements to humanistic scholarship to research about the origins of the universe.

What these remarkable people have shared is a commitment to exploring one or more of the Big Questions at the core of the John Templeton Foundation’s mandate. All have been seekers of wisdom, humbled by the complexity of the human condition but determined to chart a path forward with their ideas and deeds. Some Templeton Prize laureates have demonstrated the transformative power of virtues like love, forgiveness, gratitude, and creativity. Others have provided new insights into scientific or philosophical problems relating to infinity, ultimate reality, and purpose in the cosmos. Still others have used the analytical tools of the humanities to provide new perspectives on the spiritual dilemmas of modern life. The Prize seeks and encourages breadth of vision, recognizing that human beings take their spiritual bearings from a range of experiences.”

Main text quoted in this blog has been excerpted from the following links >>Sir John Templeton BiographyTempleton Prize.orgTempleton Prize Winners; Laws Of Life Essay Contest

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