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Toronto Catholic District School Board

School History And Tradition
Jean Vanier: The Man
Jean Vanier Photo Jean Vanier, born in 1928, is the son of former Governor General of Canada, Georges Vanier.    Jean Vanier was educated in England and Canada and for several years he served in the British Navy and the  Canadian Royal Navy.  In 1950, he resigned from the Navy, went to France and worked on a doctorate in Philosophy.  He then taught Theology and Philosophy at the University of Toronto.
In  1964,  Jean Vanier bought a house in  Trosly-Breuil, France, and invited two men with intellectual disabilities to live with him.  He named that home L’Arche, after Noah’s ark – both a place of refuge and of new beginnings.
L’Arche is now a network of more than one hundred communities in thirty countries.  These communities support people with disabilities and their caregivers. Their goal is to achieve a sense of community  and dignity not possible within an institution. As Vanier says, “Not to judge or criticize, but just to see what is most beautiful in them and then help reveal that BEAUTY to them.”
In 1971, with Marie-Helene Mathieu,  Jean Vanier co-founded  “Faith and Light”, which brings together people with disabilities, their parents and friends. There are now over 1000 such communities worldwide.
Jean Vanier, CC, GOQ, Ph.D. (born September 10, 1928) is the founder of L'Arche, an international organization that creates communities where people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them share life together.

In 1964, through Vanier's friendship with a Dominican order priest, Father Thomas Philippe, he became aware of the plight of thousands of people institutionalized with developmental disabilities. Jean Vanier felt led by God to invite two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to leave the institutions where they resided and share their lives with him in a real home in Trosly-Breuil, France. He named their home L'Arche, meaning "the ark", (referring to Noah's ark). From this original community in France, 130 other communities have been founded throughout the world in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America.
Although L'Arche communities are found in many different cultures and reflect the ethnic and religious composition of the locales in which they exist, they share a common philosophy and approach. The goal of L'Arche is to bring together people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them to live and work to create homes, recognizing one another’s unique value and gifts.
In 1964, inspired by his belief that community can change the world, Jean Vanier founded Faith and Sharing, a worldwide movement of annual retreats where people from all walks of life are welcome. In 1971, he co-founded Faith and Light with Marie Hélène Mathieu. Faith and Light groups, composed of people with developmental disabilities, their family and friends, meet regularly to discuss hopes and difficulties and to pray together. Vanier points out that when confronted with human brokenness and weakness, people often find a God whose love is without limitation. Today there are over 1400 Faith and Light communities around the world.
Until the late 1970's, Jean Vanier carried the responsibility for L'Arche in Trosly-Breuil in France and for the International Federation of L'Arche. He stepped down from these responsibilities, to spend more time today counseling, encouraging and accompanying people who come to live in L'Arche as assistants to those with disabilities. Vanier still makes his home in the original community of Trosly-Breuil, France. He also travels widely, visiting other L'Arche communities, encouraging projects for new communities, and giving lectures and retreats. In the view of many of those who know him, Jean Vanier has demonstrated a lifetime of commitment to those who have been marginalized in our world, the lonely and the dispossessed.
Awards and Honours

In recognition of his contributions and humanness to the marginalized, Jean Vanier has received numerous distinctions and awards including the Companion of the Order of Canada, the Legion of Honour (France) and many awards from faith groups, among them the Paul VI International Prize, the Community of Christ International Peace Award, the Rabbi Gunther Plaut Humanitarian Award and the Gaudium et Spes Award. Pope John Paul II praised Jean’s work in creating L'Arche, saying "Over the past 30 years L'Arche has grown to become a dynamic and providential sign of the civilization of love." ( There are High Schools named after him in Whitehorse, Yukon; Scarborough, Ontario; Collingwood, Ontario and Welland, Ontario. Top 100 Greatest Canadians
In 2006 Vanier received the prestigious Beacon Fellowship Prize for his lifelong commitment to the care, well-being and independence of people with disabilities worldwide.

 Jean Vanier


Jean Vanier: The School

The doors of Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School opened in September 1989 welcoming 18 staff and 198 grade 9 students. Construction and renovation were not complete until the spring of 1994, and the school now accommodates close to 900 students.
of Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche. They set out to build a school in an atmosphere of cooperation and acceptance. Perhaps Jean Vanier best expressed the essence of our school in his book, A Hope That We Can Grow. “I accept you as you are, not expecting more and not weeping because you are not exactly what I want you to be. So to celebrate is to give thanks for all you are and all we are together,” says one passage. Our school celebrated its solemn blessing and official opening in November 1994. Another treasured event was the visit of Jean Vanier himself in May 1995. His vision continues to inspire us to grow in the words of our motto: “Through knowledge towards God.”
The school is currently operating at capacity with 1100 students.  Demand has increased to such high levels that a new wing was inaugerated in 2012.  See pictures of the ribbon cutting ceremony in The Star or sing this lovely song - the lyrics have have been provided. LAW.TEST.pdfLAW.TEST.pdf
importance of knowledge