Jean Vanier, Catholic Advocate for People With Intellectual Disabilities, Dies at 90

02 juillet 2014 : Jean VANIER, fondateur de l’ARCHE à Trosly (60), France
July 2th, 2014 : Jean VANIER, founder of the ARCHE. Trosly in France

Jean Vanier, the Catholic founder of two community organizations for those with intellectual disabilities, has passed away in Paris, France. He was 90 years old.

L’Arche Internationale, one of the two networks Vanier helped found to benefit those with special needs, announced his death early Tuesday morning on their Facebook page.

“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Jean Vanier. He passed away peacefully today Tuesday, May 7 at 2:10 am in Paris surrounded by some relatives,” noted the organization.

In a statement, L’Arche noted that days before his death, Vanier reported that he was “deeply peaceful and trustful.”

“I’m not sure what the future will be but God is good and whatever happens it will be the best. I am happy and give thanks for everything. My deepest love to each one of you,” said Vanier in his last message to supporters.

Born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1928, Vanier was the son of a Canadian diplomat. In his youth, he served in both the British and Canadian Royal navies until 1950.

Vanier studied philosophy and taught the subject in Toronto. He seriously considered becoming a Catholic priest, though eventually decided not to.

In the early 1960s, when visiting a Dominican chaplain in France, Vanier witnessed the poor conditions for the intellectually disabled in the asylums.

In 1964, Vanier invited two disabled men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to live with him in in Trosly-Breuil, France rather than remain in a French institution.

“There, in that small home in Trosly-Breuil, Vanier’s initial urge to ‘do something for’ Raphael and Philippe grew to become a commitment to ‘being with’ and ‘friend to’ these two men,” noted L’Arche USA.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski