Jean Vanier, portrait of a free man29 september 2014
has just been published by Editions Albin Michel
This book is currently only available in French. We are looking forward to it being translated because it describes Jean so well and brings him even closer to us.
Nowadays, Jean Vanier is known throughout the world for having founded L’Arche exactly fifty years ago, an association that creates places where people with a learning disability live together with those who commit to stay alongside them, which has nearly one hundred and fifty communities over the five continents. He is also known for having created Faith and Light with Marie-Hélène Mathieu. But do we know who Jean Vanier is and what led him to make these choices?
Anne-Sophie Constant paints the journey of this extraordinary figure. After joining the Royal Navy at the age of thirteen – right in the midst of war- he then left everything behind at the age of twenty-two to study philosophy and theology, which led him to a PhD and the teaching profession. Then, in 1964, his life was turned upside down when he set up home in a village in the Oise region with two men with a learning disability.
Based on years of first-hand experience of L’Arche communities and her intimate knowledge of Jean Vanier’s work, the author highlights the influences, decrypts the events, picks out the risks and encounters that together were able to shape such a unique destiny.
She brings alive the evangelical inspiration behind this man of action, and tells us the exceptional story of a free man. It is a story in which Faith and Light certainly has its part to play.
With a PhD and advanced studies in Classics, Anne-Sophie Constant is a specialist in contemporary poetry and, until 2012, was senior lecturer in Information and Communication studies at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers.
Editions Albin Michel, 244 pages, 18 €