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Jean Vanier Receives Gaudium et Spes Award


Knights of Columbus Gives Canadian Humanitarian its Highest Honor

Jean Vanier, the internationally renowned founder of l'Arche, a network of faith-based communities that care for people with developmental disabilities in a community setting, was honored with the Knights of Columbus Gaudium et Spes Award in Montreal, Canada, on Saturday, April 2. The award was presented by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson at a banquet at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

Five years after l'Arche was founded, the first l'Arche community in Canada was established in Toronto in 1969. Today there are 26 l'Arche communities throughout Canada with 380 assistants serving 478 people with disabilities.

"Jean Vanier exemplifies the call to self-giving and Christ-centered community involvement that is such a central theme in Gaudium et Spes," Anderson said. "His entire life of service is an inspiration to all, and an eloquent witness to the gospel of Christ"

The award, which comes with an honorarium of $100,000, is the highest honor bestowed by the Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world with nearly 1.7 million members.

The award is named for Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope), the landmark 1965 document adopted by the second Vatican Council. A landmark of social teaching, Gaudium et Spes is the "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World." The award is designed to recognize individuals for their exemplary contributions to the realization of the message of faith and service in the spirit of Christ as articulated in this document.

Vanier became the sixth person -- and the first layman -- to receive the award. Other recipients of the Gaudium et Spes Award are Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Cardinal John O'Connor of New York, Cardinal James Hickey of Washington, D.C., Cardinal William Baum of Washington, D.C., and major penitentiary of the Vatican, and Archbishop Michael Sabbah, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem.

Additional documents are available below:

About the Gaudium et Spes Award
What is Gaudium et Spes
Previous Gaudium et Spes Award Recipients
Jean Vanier Biography
The Knights of Columbus in Canada