Canadian Jean Vanier was born in 1928 he was the son of the Governor-General of Canada (Gerges Vanier), Jean Vanier began his career in the Canadian Navy. He left in 1950 and taught philosophy and theology until 1964. In 1964 he began a community ministry to persons with developmental disabilities by inviting two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to come live with him. He opened this home in France and called it "L'Arche" which means The Ark. He said he was felt called by God to establish a home for handicapped, 103 other communities have been founded throughout the world, in Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America.
In 1968, in Marylake, Ontario, a community called "faith and sharing" was founded following a retreat preached by Jean Vanier, a community where people gather once a month for sharing around the Gospel, and where everyone is welcomed. In 1971, with Marie Hélene Mathieu, he founded "faith and light", communities which meet together regularly: people with developmental disabilities, their parents and friends.
Until 1981, Jean Vanier carried the responsibility for l'Arche in Trosly Breuil and for the International Federation of L'Arche. He stepped down from those two responsibilities, allowing others to take over. He spends much of his time counseling, encouraging and accompanying assistants in their personal journey in L'Arche. He still makes his home in one of the homes in Trosly but he is called to travel a great deal, to visit other communities of L'Arche, to encourage projects for new communities, to give lectures and retreats.