Philippe Seux, Co-founder of L’Arche
The first time I saw Jean Vanier was in a centre which I wasn’t allowed to leave. I saw him at the Chapel, and then he gave out the soup. First, I was impressed. I thought that the table was so small as he was so tall.”
Philippe was born in Casablanca, in Morocco, in 1941. At the age of two, he caught encephalitis followed by whooping cough, which both had serious after-effects on his health. Following his brother’s death when Philippe was six years old, he lived alone with his mother. When Philippe was 20 years old, the two of them came to France so that his mother could receive medical care. Two years later she was hospitalised and died in 1963.
Philippe was sent to various Parisian hospitals, but he was unhappy. A year later, he met Jean Vanier and remembers: “I saw him at the Chapel, and then he gave out the soup. First, I was impressed. I thought that the table was so small as he was so tall.”
“Before, life wasn’t worth it: sitting all day in a big room. We couldn’t do anything, we didn’t go out, we were bored. No amusement, nothing. I even cried. When I arrived in L’Arche, there wasn’t any electricity, nothing! We had candles, that was funny! There were no sanitaries, no showers. But I exploded like a bomb. I did “oufs” just because I was so happy.”
Philippe moved to L’Arche on 4 August 1964 together with Raphaël Simi. Philippe later worked in various workshops of the Trosly community. However, it must be said that he was not a highly motivated worker! In 1975 he left to live in the L’Arche community in Compiègne, which was a calmer place for him to live with the advantages of a small city.
It was only in 1987 that he was welcomed into the occupational therapy workshop in Compiègne. Philippe is still living in his L’Arche home: “l’Isba”. His handicap has worsened and his dependence on others is increasing, but he continues to be full of tenderness and humour!