L'Arche

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L'Arche
Larcheboatname.jpeg
Motto "Changing the world, one heart at a time!"
Founded August 4, 1964, in Trosly-Breuil, France
Type International not-for-profit organization
Location
  • Worldwide in 35 countries
Services Operating homes, programs, and support networks with people who have developmental disabilities
Members 5000+
Key people Jean Vanier/Raphaël Simi/Phillipe Seux, Founders
Website http://www.larche.org

L'Arche is an International Federation dedicated to the creation and growth of homes, programs, and support networks with people who have intellectual disabilities. It was founded in 1964 when Jean Vanier, the son of Canadian Governor General Georges Vanier and Pauline Vanier, welcomed two men with disabilities into his home in the town of Trosly-Breuil, France. Today, it is an international organisation operating 146 communities in 35 countries, and on all five continents.

Worldwide, L’Arche is organized into regional and national groupings of independent, locally operated agencies which it calls “communities." Each L'Arche community normally comprises a number of homes and, in many cases, apartments and day programs as well. Currently, there are 146 L'Arche communities in 35 countries. [1].

The L'Arche Model[edit]

L’Arche homes and programs operate according to a not-for-profit “community model” which is distinct from "client-centered", medical, or social service models of care. At L’Arche,

  • people with disabilities, and those who assist them, live together in homes and apartments, sharing life with one another and building community as responsible adults.
  • everyone is believed to have the capacity to grow and to mature into adulthood, and to make a contribution to society, regardless of the physical or intellectual limitations with which they may be living; and
  • the important goals of achieving personal growth and maturing socially as an adult are things which are understood to be nurtured most effectively within the context of a community whose policies and practices support and promote, among other things:
    • the development of long-term, mutual, interdependent relationships;
    • the maintenance of a stable, life-giving home environment;
    • the training and ongoing formation of those who provide assistance to community members with disabilities; and
    • cooperation with outside professional care providers.

The Mission of L'Arche[edit]

The mission of L'Arche, as defined by L'Arche International, is

  • to make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities (or learning disabilities as they are known in the UK),
  • to foster the development of communities that respond to members' changing needs, and
  • to engage with local cultures while working toward a more human society.


In pursuit of this mission, L'Arche strives

  • to create small faith-based communities of friendship and mutuality between people of differing abilities;
  • to develop lifelong support systems for the benefit of all, especially those who are highly vulnerable due to old age and/or multiple disabilities; and
  • to highlight the unique capacity of persons with disabilities to enrich relationships and to build communities where the values of compassion, inclusion and diversity are upheld and lived by each person.

L'Arche as a "Faith-Based" Organization[edit]

As a faith-based organization, L'Arche maintains, promotes, and strives to act upon the following principles:

  • that whatever their strengths or their limitations, people are all bound together in a common humanity;
  • that everyone has the same dignity and the same rights, including the right to life, to a home, to work, to friendship, and to a spiritual life;
  • that a truly just and compassionate society is one which welcomes its most vulnerable citizens, and which provides them with opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the communities in which they live; and
  • that systems of belief—be they secular or religious—make the world a better place only when they promote the dignity of all human beings, inspiring us to be open to people of different intellectual capacities, social origins, races, religions, and cultures.

For more information about the vision and mission of L'Arche, see the "Charter of L'Arche

History of L'Arche[edit]

In 1964, through his friendship with Father Thomas Philippe, a Roman Catholic priest of the Dominican order, Vanier became aware of the plight of thousands of people institutionalized with developmental disabilities. Vanier felt led by God to invite two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to leave the institutions where they resided and share their lives with him in a household in Trosly-Breuil, France. He named their home "L'Arche", which is French for "The Ark", as in Noah's Ark. A collection of audiovisual material from L'Arche Trosly-Breuil is available at the University of St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto.[1]

The first community in Canada, L'Arche Daybreak, was founded in 1969 in Richmond Hill, Ontario, near Toronto. The institutional and community archives of the Daybreak community are located at the St. Michael's College, Toronto.[2] The first community in the UK was founded in 1973 in Barfrestone, Kent, through the efforts of Jean Vanier's sister, Thérèse Vanier.[3] L'Arche Kent has since grown into a thriving L'Arche community, the first in the UK.[citation needed]

Although L'Arche communities are found in many different cultures and reflect the ethnic and religious composition of the locales in which they exist, they share a common philosophy and approach. People with developmental disabilities and those who assist them live and work together to create homes. The L'Arche Charter says, "In a divided world, L'Arche wants to be a sign of hope. Its communities, founded on covenant relationships between people of differing intellectual capacity, social origin, religion and culture, seek to be signs of unity, faithfulness and reconciliation."[4] The charter further outlines the objectives, the principles and the identity of L'Arche. All the Communities of the International Federation of L'Arche are committed to living these principles. In March 2008, the international councils of L'Arche and another organization for disabled people founded by Vanier, Faith and Light, met for the first time in joint meeting in Lviv, Ukraine. The international council of L'Arche was represented by 30 people from 14 countries, and the international council of Faith and Light was represented by 19 people from 17 countries, including France, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain, Ireland, India, Canada, USA, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Brazil, Uganda, New Zealand, Philippines, and Italy.[citation needed]

Funding[edit]

L'Arche communities are funded differently, depending on where they are located. In Canada, the UK, France and other developed countries, they are funded by the relevant governmental body. In less economically developed countries they rely more on local donations and on donations from other L'Arche communities and worldwide.[citation needed]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Challenge of L'Arche, 1982, Jean Vanier
  • A Blessed Weakness: Spirit of Jean Vanier and L'Arche, 1989, Michael Downey
  • Arc for the Poor: The Story of L'Arche (L'Arche Collection), 1995, Jean Vanier
  • Encounter with Mystery: Reflections on L'Arche and Living with Disability, 1997, by Darton, Longman, editor Frances Young
  • The Miracle the Message the Story: Jean Vanier and L'Arche, 2006, by Kathryn Spink
  • Enough Room for Joy: The Early Days of Jean Vanier's L'Arche, 2007, by Bill Clarke, S.J.
  • Community and Growth, reprinted 1989, by Jean Vanier, Paulist Press
  • Walking on a Rolling Deck: Life on the Ark, 2008, by Kathleen Berken (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota)
  • Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness, 2008, by Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois). ISBN 978-0-8308-3452-5

References[edit]

  1. ^ L'Arche Trosly-Breuil fonds held at the John M. Kelly Library, St. Michael's College, Toronto.
  2. ^ L'Arche Daybreak fonds held at the John M. Kelly Library, St. Michael's College, Toronto.
  3. ^ Dr. Thérèse Vanier (1923-2014) obituary, theglobeandmail.com; accessed 2 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Charter of the Communities of L'Arche". L'Arche International. Retrieved 15 March 2008. 

External links[edit]

National & Multinational L'Arche Websites[edit]

An up-to-date listing of all national and multi-national L'Arche headquarters can be found here.

Below is a list of direct links to some of the key national and multi-national L'Arche websites:

Regional L'Arche Websites[edit]

L'Arche Community Websites[edit]

An up-to-date listing of all L'Arche communities worldwide can be found here.

Below is a list of direct links to some L'Arche community websites:

Other L'Arche-related Websites[edit]