Love, thoughts and cherished pictures

Happy Birthday Jean!

We send our love, thoughts and some cherished pictures, from your community of L’Arche London, Ontario. We are so blessed, and so happy on the occasion of your 90th Birthday.

Photo: All of us!

Happy Birthday Jean,

We hope you are doing well on your special day. We are all very grateful for all that you have done in starting L’Arche and bringing L’Arche out to the world. Without it, we would not be all here together gathered around a table enjoying a wonderful meal and life together and trying to think of what to say to you for your birthday! Thank you for your great ideas and the challenge of living them out daily that we are all called to. Our friend Jim is very thankful for your friendship and thinks you are an amazing man and he would like to know “how did you get to be so old?” (That is his signature question on everyone’s birthday). Our friend Peter also says,“Happy Birthday, very good job Vanier, very nice, amen”. And our friend Paul called out from his mat where he has been relaxing and rolling around saying “Raaww Rrraar Reeer”.

Happy Birthday and many blessings and good health in the year ahead from all of us here at

Bethany House
L’Arche London

Happy 90th Birthday Jean Vanier!

I am so grateful to you that you brought L’Arche to life. And shone the light on the glorious wonders of people with intellectual disabilities. Each time I am given the gift to be with my friends I am filled with great joy. The attached photo of Winnie, Melissa and Kate from Jubilee House was taken on a walk together at Sifton Bog, a very lovely setting and peaceful place. It was a beautiful day and I love this picture!

With thanks and deep appreciation for you,

Jo-Anne Chapman

I had no idea of the significance of the tall, gentle man who sat beside me that evening as we ate an everyday French meal together at La Semence – a L’Arche home in Cuise la Motte, France. Sitting next to Jean Vanier, I remember him asking me about my life – where I was from, what my faith background was, who my family was. Although it was over 30 years ago, I still remember how the conversation made me feel: like I belonged, like I had value. More than anything, in a few short minutes Jean had given me the strong impression that I was known – an ocean away from where I was born and raised, here in this little French village – I was known. What a gifted man.

I had entered this French, Catholic community with some apprehension. I was neither French, nor Catholic, and I felt like a foreigner in many ways when I arrived at L’Arche. As I shared with Jean how I had found my faith and how the Mennonite church I had been attending in Canada had informed my faith – I was very surprised to find that Jean knew much more about the Mennonite history and faith than I did! What a transforming thing it was for me as a young person to meet someone so grounded in his own faith tradition, but also so knowledgeable and respectful of another.

I noticed that he had the same deep interest in everyone at the table that night, most of whom he knew already. He was ready with a tidbit of information that might be of interest to one, and a joke that might thrill the next. I realize now that this is really how L’Arche was founded and how it grew – by being interested in people – really interested in them and taking the risk to love them with their weakness and strengths alike. I saw the words of scripture jump to life “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galations 3:28) Could I be so bold as to add neither Disabled and Abled?

If anyone had been looking in on my life in 1997, they may have concluded that I had arrived at L’Arche in France quite by accident after my other plans had fallen through. Today I believe it had far more to do with God’s grace and providence. I have had a few other opportunities to meet Jean over the years – the most remarkable to me being when he visited our L’Arche London (Canada) community in its early years. By then, I had come to understand what a significant influence this tall, gentle man was having on the entire world. Jean brings with him a message of Hope: the hope of being known, of being loved, and being valued.

Happy Birthday, Jean!

Laurel Martin

We are a people made for Singing! Monday Morning Music Club at our Gathering Place!

With Love,

L’Arche London, Ontario


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.