Jean Vanier is best known as the founder of the L’Arche, an international network of communities for people with intellectual disabilities. The vision for L’Arche was born while Vanier was spending time with Father Thomas, the chaplain of the Val Fleuri in Trosly-Breuil.
Father Thomas brought Vanier along to a small institution, the Val Fleuri, that welcomed about 30 men with intellectual disabilities. From this experience, Vanier was infected with compassion for these men. Later he was prompted to return to France and begin a journey of compassion and friendship with two men, whom he lived with and cared for. This was the seed that began what is now 151 communities spread over 5 continents, with more than 5000 members, L’Arche International Communities. When pressed for what motivates him, he responded, “The point of inclusion is the belief that each of us is important, unique, sacred, in fact .
Vanier is one example of how a prosocial leader, acting for the good of the other, not pausing to take into consideration personal reward, or cost.
1. Vanier, J. (2008). Becoming human. House of Anansi. p. 95.
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