Faith & Light

Faith and Light is an international Christian Association of people with learning difficulties, their families and friends.

It was founded in France, in 1968, by Jean Vanier. Its sister organisation,   L'Arche, began when Vanier welcomed into his home, and cared for two men with severe learning difficulties. Forty years later, both movements are spreading world -wide and have become ecumenical. Now in his seventies, Jean Vanier is the inspiration behind L'Arche and Faith and Light. For him, the weakest and most vulnerable members of society contribute just as much as those who are powerful and successful. There is no such thing in L'Arche and Faith and Light as 'them and us'. The weakest are the means by which others become compassionate and caring. They enable us to grow. 

Many Sisters in different parts of the country are involved in the Faith and Light Movement and share similar experiences to those we have recounted here. 

Faith and Light is non-residential, with each group, or ‘Community’, as Faith and Light groups are known, meeting monthly. In recent years the York Community has been meeting in the Convent with Sister Margaret Mary as its present Leader. The members experience that warm welcome which is at the heart of mercy hospitality. 

The three elements of all Faith and Light meetings are prayer together, the sharing of a meal, and a time for relaxing with activities and games which we can all enjoy. We are very fortunate in being able to use our Chapel for our prayer time. It is a bit of a squash but the atmosphere is wonderful and I am sure the Lord delights to listen in. 

Faith and light loves to celebrate. So in addition to our monthly meetings, we visit other Faith and Light Communities in our Region, including Leeds, Knaresborough and Keighley. With them, we enjoy parties, as also our big Feast-day, the Feast of Light, on or near Candlemas Day.  Our Summer celebration, for all the Communities in the area, is a very happy affair, held in Garforth, in the open air whenever possible. 

We arrange days out together and  recently had a lovely week's holiday, using the Endsleigh Centre, a Mercy Retreat,  and Conference Centre, as our base. Here we experienced Mercy hospitality at its best.  At regular intervals, very large-scale Faith and Light pilgrimages to Lourdes are arranged when thousands come for a week-long celebration. York members have been part of these pilgrimages too. 

Like Catherine McAuley, Jean Vanier looked upon the most vulnerable members of society, and saw in them their gift of enabling others to grow in love and compassion. They are as much channels of God's Mercy to us, as we are to them. Being part of this movement is a wonderfully rewarding way of making mercy the business of our lives.

Pictured right: Sister Margaret Mary at Faith and Light celebration