Best wishes on the occasion of your 90th Birthday
Birthday Greetings to 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.
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