Best wishes on the occasion of your 90th Birthday

Birthday Greetings to Jean

Dear Jean,

Mary Lou and I send you all our love, and prayers, and best wishes on the occasion of your 90th Birthday. You and L’Arche have been so much a part of our lives that it’s impossible to separate the memories, for our lives have intersected in so many ways.

Brian and Mary Lou with Jean, in his house at Trosly (2012)

Photo:Brian and Mary Lou with Jean, in his house at Trosly (2012)

I first met you in an Ethics classroom at St. Mike’s, at the University of Toronto, in the spring semester of 1964. You left at the end of the semester to go directly to Trosly-Breuil to begin the opening of L’Arche. I was able to join you there two years later, in September 1966. I worked with Lucien Leroy, René Fâche, and many others, under Steve Newroth’s leadership, learning to improve my spoken French and much more besides. Mary Lou was studying in Paris at that time and living au-pair. In October two of her friends were killed in a highway accident, and you urged me to go to Paris for a week to support her. Those days in Paris led to Mary Lou and I getting to know each other better, and in February we became engaged. Our whole life together began through the connection with L’Arche and with you.

Back in Canada, we continued our studies and became teachers, but returned to L’Arche in 1962, at your suggestion, when we went to live at Daybreak. We had a dream of beginning a L’Arche community on our farm and were able to do that eventually in 1975 when we founded L’Arche Frontenac. You came to one of our early Board Meetings in Kingston, and a few years later you were able to visit us on the farm at L’Arche Frontenac. In those early years of the community, 1975-78, I was also a Regional Coordinator and a member of the International Council, which meant I had regular opportunities each year to be with you and others as we tried to discern the future for L’Arche around the world.

Our kids grew up in L’Arche: Erin, Peter, Mary Beth, Lesley and Michael. Over the years four of them spent various periods of time in L’Arche communities in Canada, Australia, Belgium and Ireland. They and we have been formed and inspired by L’Arche. After a dozen years at L’Arche Frontenac, we left the farm. And then L’Arche Frontenac also left the farm and became L’Arche Arnprior. In Toronto, we have continued our L’Arche connection through Daybreak but especially through L’Arche Toronto.

It has been a long time. For us, it is over 50 years of L’Arche – most of our lives, and a large part of yours too. We thank you, dear Jean, for being who you are and for all that you have given and continue to give.

God bless you, as you enter your nineties.


Brian and Mary Lou


Those were the days my friend

Avec toute la fougue de notre jeunesse nous vous avons suivi dans la folle aventure de L’Arche

Hope and love born through relationships

My first encounter with Jean was through his book Tears of Silence at the impressionable age of 16

We had an arm wrestle

I got to meet Jean in person. I introduced myself and where I was from.

This gift of truth and authenticity

I first met Jean in 1973, when I was a university student and he came to speak in Kingston, Ontario.

Happy 90th Birthday, Jean! Bonne Fête!

Hard to believe that ten years has already passed since we were together

We are the “ancients” on the earth

I could never have imagined that we would be coming to this time in our lives

What Jean has meant to Brian

Brian is a happy, content and energetic person who enjoys a blessed and full life.

Our lives intertwined with yours

One of the great graces of our lives has been how they have been intertwined with yours for over 45 years now.

This trust in the Spirit, extended by Jean, was pure gift

After a few years of searching for a way to follow Jesus we encountered Jean at Faith and Sharing Retreats in Edmonton

Some libations in honor of the occasion

Jean Vanier dropped in to visit at the farm in Harlowe, Ontario, Canada on July 30-31, 1985

J’écoutais avec une très grande attention chaque mot

Ma première rencontre avec Jean était au foyer de charité de Tressaint en 1974, alors que j’étais jeune adulte

You have changed my life in many ways

But I would like to tell you the story of the first time I realized why you are so beloved.

Best wishes on the occasion of your 90th Birthday

You and L’Arche have been so much a part of our lives that it’s impossible to separate the memories

Laurie et Jean

Laurie est une personne très accueillante.

You invited me into an amazing world of friendship

I give thanks for the blessing you have been and continue to be for me and for so many others.

Holes in his jacket

This is a photo of Jean Vanier with L’Arche Arnprior’s founding core member, Ian Squires

A start of a healing journey

Those 20 days were not easy for me.

You are a gift and an inspiration

In 2013, I was blessed to meet Jean during the Community Leader Formation program in Trosly.

Il sait dire « Tu es important pour moi »

Parmi les nombreux dons de Jean, nous voulons souligner particulièrement sa capacité de présence attentive

A moment of extreme privilege

This picture was taken at the International Gathering of Priests and Bishops

A dream come true!

I have found my peace, my pleasure and my place in L’Arche.

I feel special and safe and all because of him

Jean is a special person, he is kind, and loving; polite and he has a big heart.

Jean has paved the road of my personal journey

I valued Jean’s gentle guidance as I’ve been seeking to discern the stirrings of the Spirit in my life

A beautiful realization

Listening to Jean the few times I met him opened a new reality for me

Tendre rencontre

Flavie Nadeau-Larouche, tout juste 6 ans, est attendrie par le charisme de Jean Vanier

Vœux de L’Arche Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Vidéoclip de 13 mins. realisée par les membres de la communauté

From Jean Vanier Catholic High School

He reminds us to be selfless and inclusive and to love generously.

Un sentiment de confirmation

Encore aujourd’hui, des gens nous racontent combien ils ont été touchés de sa présence

With love and gratitude

I celebrate with so many around the world in the gift that you are to our world!

For all the fruitfulness of your life so far

Congratulations on your 90th birthday!

Belly laughs

Each of those retreats has been filled with inspiration, empowerment, spiritual nourishment and laughter.

A precious and joyful memory

This is a photo of you Jean, with Patrick when you came to lead our Community Retreat in 2004

The gift of friendship

Thank-you for your continued friendship and all the wisdom imparted.

A profound impact

Since my first Faith and Sharing retreat with Jean in Naramata, B.C.

Such laughter and joy!

I remember stopping in Trosly on my way to India in 1991, visiting you and listening to your stories

Hearts full of gratitude

We are so blessed to be a part of this one L’Arche family that you were called to start so many years ago.

Birthday wishes from L’Arche Stratford

Members of L’Arche Stratford created a special photo collage for Jean

A hug from Dan

It was great to meet you at the International L’Arche Formation

Une première rencontre avec Jean

Une de mes premières expériences avec Jean était quand j’avais 16 ans en 1969.

Love, thoughts and cherished pictures

We are so blessed, and so happy on the occasion of your 90th Birthday.

Ordinary but also extraordinary

I have very fond memories of being Jean’s “personal assistant” many years ago

Jean sat on a blanket eating potato chips

I spent time with Jean when Toronto hosted World Youth Day.

Our guest at the Eucharistic Congress

This is one of my very favourite photos of all time!

Making relationships possible

Thank you for your “yes” to the call of L’Arche!

Love and more love

I loved dancing an Irish reel with you in Québec

‘It’s all about respect and compassion’

In June 2008 we attended the International Eucharistic Conference in Quebec City.

Share life always

The journey of Jean and the L’Arche communities deserves special recognition too.

From James and Garnet

“You’re a handsome guy.”

Vous aviez pris le bateau ensemble

Pauline Audet, ma mère, m’a raconté que vous aviez pris le bateau ensemble, pour rentrer au Canada, lorsque la guerre fut déclarée en 39 ou 40

This is what real kindness looks like

I first heard you speak on television when you visited Vancouver. I was young and your words left an impact on me.