About Us

Faith and Light was founded by….

Marie-Hélène Mathieu.

Marie-Hélène Mathieu

A special teacher, she created the Office Chrétien des Personnes Handicapées (O.C.H.) [Christian Office for Disabled People] in 1963. In 1968, she established Ombres et Lumière magazine which she ran until the year 2000.

In 1971, she founded Faith and Light with Jean Vanier. She became international coordinator of the Faith and Light movement in 1979. She holds the French honour – Chevalier dans l’ordre national du mérite, as well as Officer of the Legion of Honour. The ”Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” cross, (the Vatican ‘Cross of Honour’).

    …… and Jean Vanier,

Jean Vanier

A Canadian. After obtaining a doctorate in philosophy, he taught at Toronto University. In 1964 he created l’Arche, welcoming two adults with intellectual disabilities into a small home at Trosly-Breuil in Oise, France.

He founded Faith and Light In 1971, with Marie-Hélène Mathieu. He has received the Papal award, Officer of the Legion of Honour, “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” cross.

Who is Faith and Light

Faith and Light is a community and family based movement. At the heart of these communities, where people meet rather than live, you can find persons, children or adults with intellectual disabilities of different levels; they are surrounded by their family and friends, particularly young people. At each gathering, the community experiences a time of friendship, prayer and celebration.

The disabled person helps other community members to understand that there is another world outside the one of competition, money and material pleasures. Through their frailty they call for tenderness, loyalty, listening skills and faith. They are the source of communion and unity in their community, their Church and between the different Churches.

Faith and Light, born on Catholic ground, is now developing in other Christian traditions too. Very often the members of a community belong to the same church and are integrated in the Parish and the Diocese. Some communities are of mixed denomination.
All members are encouraged to deepen their faith and their love of Jesus in their own Church.


flowers and sunbird

For all, we offer community, friendship, support, recognition of needs and opportunities to share our God-given gifts and spiritual enrichment.

To those with disabilities, we offer a deep belief in their call to share the gifts which God has given them.

To friends, we offer an opportunity for a friendship unique from all others, and an opportunity for commitment that brings new life.

To parents, we offer support and the opportunity of seeing more of the wonder, beauty and unique qualities their child has been given for the building up of the kingdom of God.

“Life flowing from one to another is a strange and wonderful thing, and sharing weaknesses and needs calls us together into a common humanity.”    – Jean Vanier