Dr. Carolyn Whitney-Brown’s most recent book is Flying, Falling, Catching: An Unlikely Story of Finding Freedom, co-authored with Henri Nouwen (HarperOne 2022). For more about her work, visit writersunion.ca/member/carolyn-whitney-brown.
Whitney-Brown completed her B.A. at Victoria College (University of Toronto), and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature at Brown University (Rhode Island). She lived at L'Arche Daybreak in Richmond Hill for seven years, and then completed projects for L'Arche Canada and L'Arche International, as well as for the Canadian Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Her publications include Jean Vanier: Essential Writings (Orbis, 2008 and DLT, 2019), Sharing Life: Stories of L’Arche Founders (Paulist Press, 2019), and Tender to the World: Jean Vanier, L’Arche and the United Church of Canada (McGill-Queens University Press, 2019).
Posts By This Author
It's Tempting — But Dangerous — To Protect Faith Leaders We Admire
In November 2018, an academic acquaintance in Canada phoned me with a dilemma. She had just heard about the 2015 canonical investigation by authorities in the Roman Catholic Church that concluded that Jean Vanier’s mentor, Thomas Philippe, had sexually abused women who came to him for spiritual direction, both before and during his years at L’Arche in France. This was a big problem: She was in the early stages of planning an invitation-only academic symposium about Vanier and his legacy. Should she go ahead?
Jean Vanier: Remembering an Icon, Not an Idol
Reading the flood of obituaries and tributes to Jean over the past weeks, I have been struck by this insight: Jean’s central message about transforming structures of privilege to build community across every imaginable kind of difference makes sense without reference to Jesus — but his life doesn’t. His deepest desires and choices were all tied to his reading of the gospel stories of Jesus and his community.