International Association of Faith and Light
ALSO KNOWN AS
Faith and Light International
Faith and Light International came into being following a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, in 1971 organised by Jean Vanier and Marie Hélène Mathieu in response to a request from two mentally disabled children, Taddée and Loïc, and their parents. This request became a project for the Founders: to help the mentally disabled and their families to find their rightful place in the Church and in society. The condition that the organisers laid down for joining the pilgrimage was that they should set up communities made up of people suffering from mental disabilities, and their relatives and friends, especially the young. At Easter 1971, 12,000 people arrived at the Lourdes Grotto from 15 different countries, including 4,000 disabled people. Their experience at Lourdes strengthened relations between the existing communities and helped to bring into being numerous others throughout the world. To foster the growth of the Association, it became essential to enshrine its spirit and the purposes in a Charter and a Constitution that were adopted at the General Assembly held at Wetherby, England, in 1982. The last amendments to the Charter were adopted in Madrid in 2006 and the last amendments to the Constitution were adopted at Lourdes in 2008.
Faith and Light is a community movement whose essential purpose is to create bonds of trust and friendship between the members which are based on, and fulfilled in, Jesus. In a world where it is increasingly considered normal to eliminate disabled children before and after birth, the Faith and Light communities set out to enable mentally disabled people to recognise and to exercise their own gifts in the joy of friendship; Faith and Light communities offer parents support in times of trial, helping them to discover the special vocation of their children so that they in turn can support other parents undergoing suffering and daily difficulties; Faith and Light communities enable the brothers, sisters and friends of the disabled to realise that there exists another world beyond the world of competition, money, materialism: a universe of gentleness, of faithfulness, listening to others, a world of faith which the weak and the defenceless ask to have around them. Faith and Light came into being in Catholicism, but today it is rooted in different Christian traditions. Normally, the communities comprise members belonging to the same church, incorporated into the parish and the diocese. In the case of inter-denominational communities the members are encouraged to deepen their faith and their love for Jesus within their own Church. The Association pursues its aims in close cooperation with the International Federation of L’Arche Communities, founded by Jean Vanier, and with the Office Chrétien des Personnes Handicappés, founded by Marie Hélène Mathieu.
Faith and Light is guided by an Administrative Council, upholder of the mission and vision of the movement. Faith and Light is subdivided in fifty Provinces around the world. Provinces coordinators make up a Council headed by the International Coordinator and assisted by the International Spiritual Assistant. It animates the life of the movement. The General Assembly, the utmost authority of the movement, is composed of delegates from each Province (parents, friends, disabled people), coordinators and spiritual assistants of Provinces, International vice-coordinators and by the Administrative Council. The life of the Association hinges around the communities. Their recognition as members of Faith and Light International, after a trial period of at least one year, depends upon compliance with the requisites set out in the Constitution.
Faith and Light comprises 1612 communities in 81 countries as follows: Africa (22), America (13), Asia (12), Europe (32), Oceania (2).
Carnet de route, yearly publication in French, English and Italian.
« Hisse et Ho ! », quarterly publication in French, English and Italian.
Association Internationale Foi et Lumière
3, rue du Laos - 75015 Paris - France
Tel. [+33]1.53694430 - Fax [+33]1.53694438