London, U.K., March 11, 2015 / Templeton Foundation / - Jean Vanier, the founder of L’ARCHE, a ground-breaking international network of communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers, has been awarded the 2015 Templeton Prize.
Valued at £1.1 million (about $1.7 million USD), the Prize is one of the world's largest annual awards given to an individual. It honors a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Vanier joins a distinguished group of 44 former recipients, including Mother Teresa, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and the Dalai Lama.
When he founded L’ARCHE in France in 1964, Vanier, now 86, discovered that those people whom society typically considers of least value, enable the strong to recognize and welcome their own vulnerability and to grow in their humanity. Five years later, the first Canadian community, L’ARCHE Daybreak, was founded in Richmond Hill, Ontario. In 1972, Vanier co-founded Faith and Light, which is now a world-wide network supporting families with members who have an intellectual disability.
Worldwide, there are now 147 L’ARCHE communities in 35 countries on 5 continents. Twenty-nine communities are in Canada, spread from Comox Valley, BC, to Cape Breton, NS.
In remarks prepared for today’s announcement in London, England, 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.”
In her remarks, Jennifer Simpson, daughter of Foundation president and chairman Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr. and granddaughter of Sir John Templeton, noted “By recognizing the importance of every individual, regardless of their station in life, Jean Vanier underscores how each of us has the ability not only to lift up others, but also ourselves… His powerful message and practice of love has the potential to change the world for the better, just as it has already changed the lives of countless individuals who have been touched by this extraordinary man.”
The Vanier name is well-known and respected in Canada. Numerous schools, colleges, and other institutions bear the name of Jean Vanier or of his esteemed father and mother, former Governor General Georges P. Vanier and Pauline Vanier.
Vanier has written and spoken tirelessly over more than 50 years, encouraging social justice, dialogue and unity among Christians and those of others faiths. He continues to live in the original L’ARCHE community, north of Paris, and will formally be awarded the Templeton Prize at a public ceremony in London, England on Monday, May 18, 2015.
For more information, go to http://www.larche.ca/templeton