“May oppressed people and those who oppress them set one another free. May those who are disabled and those who think they are not, help one another. May those who need someone to listen to them move the hearts of those who are too busy. May the homeless give joy to those who, albeit unwillingly, open their door to them. May the poor melt the hearts of the rich. May those who seek the truth give life to those who are satisfied because they have already found it. May the dying who do not want to die be comforted by those who find it very hard to live. May those who are not loved be authorized to open the hearts of those who are not successful in loving. May prisoners find true freedom and free others from fear. May those who sleep on the streets share their kindness with those who do not manage to understand them. May the hungry tear the veil from the eyes of those who do not hunger for justice. May those who live without hope purify the hearts of their brothers and sisters who are afraid of living. May the weak confuse the strong. May hatred be surmounted by compassion. May violence be neutralized by men and women of peace. May it surrender to those who are totally vulnerable, so that we may be healed”. Thérèse Vanier, who died at the age of 91, wrote this prayer. Born in Canada in 1923, having earned a degree in medicine in London, she started work in the haematology ward of St Thomas Hospital. In 1965 she was to be the hospital’s first woman head physician. She was a pioneer in the dissemination of palliative treatment in Europe and a great expert in this sector. After taking part in the Faith and Light Pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1971, she decided to dedicate herself to L’Arche, an ecumenical community for life with mentally disabled people, founded by her brother, Jean. It was Thérèse who in 1973 opened Little Ewell in Barfrestone, Kent, L’Arche’s first English community. Coordinator of the Northern European region (England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway and Ireland), in charge of the L’Arche Community in London until 1981, she was a great champion of ecumenism. Everyone remembers Thérèse’s gentleness, strength and sense of humour.
St. Peter’s Square
Oct. 17, 2019
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