Risk-Taking: A Tremendous Blessing

Jean Vanier
Photo credit:  L’Arche Daybreak

Since the recent death of Jean Vanier, people have asked how was it that Our Lady’s Missionaries  gave their Richmond Hill property to him to open the first L’Arche home outside Trosly- Breuil in France.

Four of Our Lady’s Missionaries had attended Jean’s first retreat at Marylake in August, 1968. We were deeply moved by the spiritual wealth we had experienced during those days. We learned, also, of his work with people with developmental disabilities and his decision in 1964 to live in a small home with two of these men. Now he was anxious to establish a  L’Arche home in Canada.

richmond hill
Postulants and novices on the farm at Richmond Hill 1962.

Our novitiate was in Richmond Hill. We had a large home and seven acres of land we had bought from the Basilian Fathers and we had planned on moving our novices down to our Clarendon community in the summer of 1968 so as to have access to the inter-novitiate program needed after the Vatican II Council. So we took a poll of our OLM sisters and the result was almost unanimous that we offer our Richmond Hill property to Jean Vanier for his new venture. We approached the Chancery Office for permission and Bishop Wall remarked as we were leaving, “Fools walk in where Angels fear to tread!”

L’Arche Daybreak was ‘born’ in the Fall of 1969.

The risk had been taken, and we’ve known tremendous blessings ever since.

 -Rosemarie Donovan, OLM

4 thoughts on “Risk-Taking: A Tremendous Blessing”

  1. Thank you for sharing, Sister Rosemarie Donovan. This is so interesting. I don’t know the years that Cecile Turner and Doris McDonnell entered the OLM’s. Would they be in this picture? With thanks Jean & John MacInnis

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