Peace Maker

From Mother Teresa to Pope John Paul II, Jean Vanier's life has been profoundly marked by his encounters with the great peacemakers of the world.

By Jean-Louis Munn

Jean Louis Munn worked as a producer at Radio Canada and in the world of gymnastics, before coming to L’Arche in 1981. He was Director of Communications at L’Arche Canada for many years.

Peace Maker

Through his family, and in the course of the military and diplomatic career of his father, Georges Vanier, Jean came to know many of the most important people in this world: Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, Cardinal Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) were friends of the family, brought closer together by the circumstances of World War II.

This war marked Jean Vanier profoundly. He would one day visit Hiroshima in order to reflect on it. In addition he would be influenced, all his life, by those great men of peace, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
In Brazil, Jean Vanier would encounter Jean Goss and Hildegard Mayr, two remarkable people who were leaders of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. They introduced him to Dom Helder Camara, Bishop of Recife in northeastern Brazil, one of the poorest regions of the world. Wholly committed to the poorest of the poor, Camara was an outspoken critic of the ruling Brazilian dictatorship and a leading light in the struggle to defend human rights. Jean invited him to visit the community in Trosly.

Later, thanks again to Hildegard Mayr, on several occasions Jean Vanier met Adolfo Perez Esquivel. Following their first meeting at the Canadian embassy, Esquivel was kidnapped by the Dops movement, sadly known for their brutality and tortures. Esquivel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980. The couple would also play a key role in the events leading up to the 1986 revolution in the Philippines. During a visit there that year, Jean met Cory Aquino who, in the wake of the non-violent revolution of the people and the neutral stance taken by the armed forces, became president of the Philippines.

Jean was also close to Mother Teresa. After visiting many time in India, Mother Teresa acceted his invitation to the L'Arche Trosly where he lives.
Jean Vanier also had a number of personal meetings with Pope John Paul II, who was particularly impressed by his work.


Receive the Daily Thoughts

Receive every day by email a Daily Thought extracted from Jean Vanier's publications.

Living Quotes