As well as L'Arche, Jean Vanier co-founded the international Faith and Light organisation.
The idea was conceived when Jean’s friend, Marie-Helene Matthieu, introduced him to Gerard and Camille, the parents of two boys with severe learning disabilities. Gerard and Camille wanted to take their sons on a trip to Lourdes but were told they would disturb the other pilgrims. In response, Jean and Marie-Helene spent three years planning a pilgrimage for people with learning disabilities and their families. In the Easter of 1971, 12,000 pilgrims from 15 countries travelled together to Lourdes.
This pilgrimage welcomed 4,000 people with learning disabilities, of all different ages and from a huge variety of backgrounds. The event was such a success that not only did it inspire further pilgrimages but also the creation of the permanent support network Faith and Light for people with learning disabilities living at home, their family and friends.
There are more than 1,400 Faith and Light groups around the world which meet on a regular basis to share experiences, pray and spend time together.
To find out more about Faith and Light in the UK, visit their website. (faithandlight.org.uk)