A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
International Association of Faith and Light
For the Mentally-Disabled
VATICAN CITY, 22 MAY 2006 (ZENIT)
Here is the description of International Association of Faith and Light, which appears in the Directory of International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
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Official name: International Association of Faith and Light
Also known as: Faith and Light International
History: Faith and Light International came into being following a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, in 1971 organized by Jean Vanier and Marie Helene 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 organizers 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.
Identity: Faith and Light is a community movement whose essential purpose is to create bonds of trust and affection between the members which are based on, and fulfilled in, Jesus.
In a world where it is increasingly considered normal to eliminate disabled people before and after birth, the Faith and Light communities set out to enable mentally disabled people to recognize and to exercise their own gifts in the joy of friendship; to offer parents support in times of trial, helping them not to focus on their child's disabilities, but to discover in them their special vocation so that the child can grow, and so that they in turn can support other parents undergoing suffering and daily difficulties; to enable the brothers, sisters and friends of the disabled to realize 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 defenseless 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 and with the Office Chrétien des Personnes Handicappés, founded by Marie Helene Mathieu.
Organization: Faith and Light is subdivided into zones. It is managed by an executive council made up of continental coordinators and by an executive committee or international council which, in addition to the founders, comprises a coordinator, a vice-coordinator and a spiritual assistant.
The general assembly is composed of the coordinators and the national spiritual assistants, the zone coordinators and the international 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.
Membership: Faith and Light comprises 1,452 communities in 78 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America, Oceania, and South America.
Publications: "Ombres et Lumiere," published quarterly in French and Italian.
Web site: www.foietlumiere.org
Association Internationale Foi et Lumière
3, rue du Laos
75015 Paris — France
Tel. (33) 1-53694430 — Fax (33) 1-53694438
© Copyright 2006 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]
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