We are the “ancients” on the earth

Dear Jean,

So much love to you! I could never have imagined that we would be coming to this time in our lives when we are the “ancients” on the earth! What a gift and privilege.

Jean and Sue

I’m reminded of your first session as guest lecturer at St. Mikes in 1967, when you spoke to me directly about Jesus in a way that touched my heart. Then it took me five years to get to L’Arche, but I also recall your visits to us early on at L’Arche Daybreak in Toronto and how you helped us to establish L’Arche in the New World! What a support you were. We learned so much as we sat together on the floor of the Big House and poured out our stories – to which you always responded without having been scandalized by our stupidity! From you, we learned about not being scandalized and not fearing, but actually welcoming the vulnerabilities of our brothers and sisters – of each other, – and finally of ourselves! We learned that Jesus was a vulnerable God, and that His life was an example for us of becoming truly human! You explained about the need for unity around those who suffered from brokenness as a “must,” and our need to listen to each other and to accept each other with gentleness and goodness and kindness. We laughed together and cried and even though your visits were short, you ‘lived’ among us as one of us and “accompanied” into a transformative way of being and living together.

I can honestly say that these were the most formative years of my life! So, just let me say, “Thank you so very much.” I cannot imagine how I would have survived without my journey in L’Arche – the saving journey of my heart’s deepest aspirations. Pure Gift. And I was graced to work closely with you during those years in Leadership and rapid growth in the Federation. Your confidence in me, when I felt so hopeless about myself, was huge, and gradually gave me the courage I so desperately needed to begin to believe in myself and my gifts! Whew! Thank you.

Mother Teresa

Then, you also shared your friends with us, and it was because of you that we had visits from, and a public event with, Mother Teresa, who also became our friend! Remember? Here’s a picture to remind you. Plus, there is a picture of you and I in 2011. Mother Teresa also became a friend and accompanier with whom we exchanged visits and wisdom.

But the biggest gift you’ve given to me, is the gift of encountering the many, many, mainly core members, but also assistants who became my friends and accompaniers and who were the instruments of my continued growth and transformation in the spiritual life. They have been “treasures of life”, teaching me wonderful and hard lessons that Jesus also taught, and that I needed so much.

So, please receive my deep love and gratitude, as well as my prayers for you, by name, every day! May God live with you and continue to walk this journey with you until you find yourself in God’s loving arms and in the communion of saints, with whom you’ve also made the journey.

Much, much love and gratitude.



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.