Power in Change

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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.


Winner of the 2015 Templeton Prize

 

The 2015 Templeton Prize was awarded in March 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?”

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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(At the time of filming, Love and Belonging, the reporting on people with disabilities used a common, but now an outdated word “Handicap.”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 make-up 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 08/12/19

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