Canadian humanitarian Jean Vanier was recently honoured for his work leading L’Arche, a network of live-in communities for people with intellectual disabilities. Vanier, who is also recognized as a theologian and philosopher, received The Templeton Prize from the John Templeton Foundation, which “serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality,” in May, 2015.
When the $1.7 million prize was announced, Vanier made a plea for global peace, saying “before being Christians or Jews or Muslims, before being Americans or Russians or Africans, before being generals or priests, rabbis or imams, before having visible or invisible disabilities, we are all human beings with hearts capable of loving.”
Jean Vanier was born in 1928. His father, Canadian diplomat George Vanier, was Governor General of Canada from 1959-1967. Jean is an example of one Canadian who used his faith, and belief in the value of all humans, to change the landscape of Canadian society. His firm understanding of the inherent worth of people with developmental exceptionalities was one of the drivers for changing Canadian attitudes, and should inspire people to use their faith for the care of those living in the margins today.