L'Arche founder Jean Vanier adresses Gregorian University
Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche Community and of the Faith and Light Association, is speaking [Friday] at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
L’Arche communities around the world (137 communities in 40 countries) work closely with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities so that each person can play their full role in society.
But speaking with Vatican Radio, Vanier says the L’Arche communities also help those who come as assistants to help the disabled: “The mystery is that many people come to L’Arche, assistants, wanting to do good. But then they discover something, that they are not there just to do good to people, but to enter into relationship with them. And then many of them discover their difficulty in relating, They don’t know how to love. They have difficulty in accepting their difficulties.”
L’Arche, he says, “is a place of transformation for people with disabilities, but also a place of transformation for the assistants, who become more human. And many of them really discover the whole mystery of the Gospels.”
Vanier says many people do not recognise the value and human dignity of those with disabilities. “Still many people in the Church and in society don’t realise, first of all, the beauty of people with disabilities, their incredible value and their ability to relate, and to relate in love.”
Many people, he says, “find themselves embarrassed and rejecting people who are different, different physically or different in their psychology . . . And many young couples are terribly frightened if they have a child with disabilities. So it’s to help discover that we are all human beings, and we can create places where we can rejoice and pray together.”
Listen as Jean Vanier, speaking with Xavier Sartre, talks about his meeting with the Holy Father, about the work of L’Arche, and about the effects of the economic crisis:
Vatican Radio (15 Nov. 2012)