Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man

Plough. Aug. 2019. 250p. notes. ISBN 9780874861402. pap. $18; ebk. ISBN 9780874861310. REL
Catholic philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian Jean Vanier (1928–2019) was born into a Canadian military family. His childhood took him from his birthplace of Switzerland to Paris, where his father served as Canadian Ambassador. After serving in the Royal Navy and then with the Royal Canadian Navy, Vanier went on to teach philosophy at the University of Toronto. His path ultimately led him away from battlefields and toward a life of religious vocation. Through the vagaries of life as a man of the people, Vanier discovered his purpose in the founding of L’Arche: a community for persons with intellectual and physical disabilities. Originally based in France, there are now L’Arche around the world. Vanier also cofounded Faith and Light, an international forum for people with developmental disabilities. Constant, a close friend of Vanier and former lecturer at Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, has created a biography of lasting value. The work conveys the restless wandering and the solidity of conviction of a fully realized life. Vanier, a man of deep sincerity and integrity, is worth getting to know.
VERDICT Recommended for anyone interested in spiritual biographies and a life of service to humanity.
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