by the awarding of the Templeton Prize 2015 to Jean Vanier

“The words we all need to hear all our lives: ‘I love you … as you are.’”

The Templeton Foundation recently awarded the 2015 Templeton Prize to Jean Vanier for his discovery of the central role of vulnerable people in the creation of a more just, inclusive and humane society. The Templeton Prize, which has previously been awarded to Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and others, is one of the most prestigious honors in the world

According to Jean Vanier, this prize honors primarily the most vulnerable among us, often marginalized in our societies. It is these people who revealed to him that any person, who has been previously rejected, when welcomed, becomes a source of dialogue, of healing, of unity and of peace for our societies and our religions.

Jean Vanier is the founder of L’Arche, a Federation of 147 communities in 35 countries and on 5 continents.  In these communities people with intellectual disabilities and those who accompany them share together, a daily life rich in mutual relationships, offering an innovative way of living.  With Marie Helene Mathieu, Vanier also cofounded Faith and Light, an extraordinary network of communities of friendship, mutual sharing and support for people with intellectual disabilities and their entourage.  Today there are 1500 such communities in 82 countries.

The following are comments excerpted from his acceptance speech:

“The people I represent today, those with mental deficiencies from l’Arche and Faith and Light, have taught me about what it means to be human and about how our societies can be transformed to become more peaceful and unified.  

Our world is evolving rapidly, and is at a crisis point today. Either we will move together towards a deeper unity of all people, in a spirit of openness, fraternity and mutual respect, or the divisions that exist will grow into terrible forces of fear and hate, encouraging wars, terrorism and even the use of atomic weapons, each of which is a form of suicide for humanity.

“Universal peace can only come if we develop and awaken the capacity to love people, to respect them deeply, to live authentic relationships with others, to yearn for truth and justice in the huge family of humanity; to develop qualities of humility, of forgiveness and of compassion for those who are weaker and in need; in short to seek the wisdom of the heart.

“It is only as we meet and share together person to person, eye to eye, and heart to heart that we discover what it means to be human and to discover the joy of being together, working together towards a common mission of peace and unity. It is only moving from winning and loneliness to collaboration and from hostility to seeing enemies as friends, that we discover the real meaning of peace.

“Our society will really become human as we discover that the strong need the weak, just as the weak need the strong. We are all together working for the common good. “

Sources: please click on the links to learn more about and watch a short video of Jean Vanier’s philosophy and work.