Vanier receives Templeton Prize
May 19, 2015
Jean Vanier, the Canadian Catholic layman who founded the L’Arche network of communities for the mentally disabled, received the Templeton Prize in London on May 18.
The award, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to spirituality, carries a $1.7-million stipend.
“People who are not endowed with intellectual gifts have on the other hand unique and marvelous gifts of the heart, and can open us to love in a special way,” Vanier said upon receiving the award. “They are not crying out for advancement or knowledge or power, but simply for a personal relationship of love that will give them life and meaning.”
Let me tell you the story of Francis, a young boy with an intellectual disability, who was making his First Communion in a church in Paris. After the service there was a wonderful family celebration. His godfather and uncle went over to Francis’ mother and said “Wasn’t it a beautiful service? The only sad thing is that he didn’t understand anything at all.” Tears came into the eyes of the mother, and Francis recognized them. He said to her: “Don’t cry mummy, Jesus loves me just as I am.”
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