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Jean Vanier at St. Michael’s College
Jean Vanier (b. 1928) first taught at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto in 1964. Having completed his doctoral studies on the ethics of Aristotle in 1962 at the Institut Catholique de Paris, he was invited to Toronto to teach a course on ethics, which was immensely popular with students and which Vanier remembers fondly:
“I loved teaching at St. Michael’s and loved the students, but I felt it was not my vocation, the final goal of my life.”
–Jean Vanier, Introduction, Our Life Together: a memoir in letters (2007), p.4
Vanier returned to France at the end of his term and founded the first L’Arche community in Trosly-Breuil in 1964. The L’Arche community became a home for people with developmental disabilities to live with their caregivers in a familial setting, outside of the institutional care model.
Between 1966 and 1969 Vanier would return to Toronto as a guest lecturer and to visit friends and family. The first North American L’Arche community, L’Arche Daybreak, was founded in 1969, in Richmond Hill, spearheading the establishment of now more than 140 communities in 35 countries around the world. Vanier was awarded the Order of Canada in 1972 and a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur in France in 1994.
St. Michael’s is proud to recognize its early connection with Jean Vanier, and to celebrate his many achievements, enduring spiritual ministry and his compelling vision for humanity founded in love, belonging and compassion.
–Exhibition panel, Vanier book launch, October 2018, by Simon Patrick Rogers
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Updated by S Rogers, 26 June 2019.
Revised by S Rogers, 30 July 2019.