L'Arche founder Jean Vanier awarded Templeton Prize

By staff writers
March 11, 2015

Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche International, has
been awarded the 2015 Templeton Prize. Vanier, who began L'Arche in 1964 when he invited two men with learning disabilities to leave a long stay institution and live with him, is a widely regarded speaker and writer.

The organisation he began is now a worldwide federation supporting 3,500 people with learning disabilities living in 143 communities in 35 countries including the UK.

The award, which is valued at £1.1million, honours a living individual who has made "exceptional contributions to life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works". Previous winners include the Dalai Lama and Desond Tutu.

The prize was given to Vanier, who is 86, for his work developing L'Arche, his continued advocacy for belonging and social justice, and his commitment toe dialogue and unity among Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and other faiths through lectures, conferences and retreats around the world.

In response to the award Vanier made a plea for world peace “Before being Christians or Jews or Muslims, before being Americans or Russians or Africans, before being generals or priests, rabbis or imams, before having visible or invisible disabilities, we are all human beings with hearts capable of loving.”

Jennifer Simpson, granddaughter of Sir John Templeton said, "By recognising the importance of every individual, regardless of their station in life, Jean Vanier underscores how each of us has the ability not only to lift up others, but also ourselves. His powerful message and practice of love has the potential to change the world for the better, just as it has already changed the lives of countless individuals who have been touched by this extraordinary man.”

* L'Arche (http://www.larche.org.uk/larche-international)

* The Templeton Prize (http://www.templetonprize.org/currentwinner.html).


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