Tuesday, May 7, 2019 was one of those days to remember, especially for the members of the 154 L’Arche Communities worldwide. The word of Jean Vanier’s death, early in the morning in Paris, France, spread quickly through social media channels and as people rose to the new day in North America, the impact of this news in the lives of many became real.
It was that very morning I was attending the opening day of the Pastors and Leaders Conference at Regent Collage. The theme was “The Prophetic Voice.” I felt deeply the need to tell this gathering the news of the loss of a modern day prophet. As I spoke this news for the first time, a rush of emotion brought tears to my eyes and tightness to my voice as I led the gathering in a prayer of thanksgiving for Jean’s life and vocation, and compassion for his family and the communities of L’Arche.
One of my most vivid remembrances, of the many opportunities I had to meet and speak with Jean over the 32 years I have been involved with L’Arche, was Jean’s gift of direct and full attention to the person he was talking to. This is such a rare thing to experience in today’s world of a multi-tasking, interruption packed, sound bite-laden style of conversation.
There will be an open public memorial service to honour the life and legacy of Jean Vanier this evening (Thursday, June 27) at 7 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, corner of Burrard and Georgia streets, Vancouver.