The $1.5 million award is given to someone who has produced "exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” Previous recipients of the award include the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.
Vanier's organization encourages intellectually disabled people to live and work alongside those without disabilities. It is meant to promote friendship and show the value of society's most vulnerable people.
The 86-year-old Canadian founded the organization in 1964, when he invited two intellectually disabled men to live with him as friends. There are now 147 L’Arche residential communities operating in 35 countries. There is a L'Arche community in this Diocese in Bognor Regis.
He has also worked to promote interreligious dialogue. Vanier has written more than 30 books, which have been translated into 29 languages.
The prize will officially be awarded May 18 in London.