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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.
  • 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]

L'Arche is rooted in Christianity, but is open to people of any faith and people with no religious affiliation.[1]

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.[2]

The first community in Canada, L'Arche Daybreak, was founded in 1969 in Richmond Hill, Ontario, near Toronto. Sue Mosteller, who lived with the Daybreak community for 40 years, acted as L'Arche's first International Coordinator after Jean Vanier.[3] Dutch priest and spiritual writer Henri Nouwen also lived with the Daybreak community for several years until his death in 1996. He wrote about his experiences with Jean Vanier, L'Arche and the Daybreak community in his books The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey and Adam: God's Beloved.[4][5] The institutional and community archives of the Daybreak community are located at the St. Michael's College, Toronto.[6]

The first community in the UK was founded in 1973 in Barfrestone, Kent, through the efforts of Jean Vanier's sister, Thérèse Vanier.[7] L'Arche Kent has since grown into a community of three traditional L'Arche houses, a gardening project called "The Glebe" and supported living apartments for twelve people with disabilities. [8]

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."[9] 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]


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]



  1. ^ Monckton, Rosa (May 21, 2015). "A hero with a lesson in love for Britain... The inspiring story of a man who treats society's loneliest souls like his own family". Mail Online. Daily Mail. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  2. ^ "L'Arche Trosly-Breuil fonds". https://stmikes.utoronto.ca. University of St. Michael's College, John M. Kelly Library, Archival and Manuscript Collections. Retrieved July 15, 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  3. ^ MacMillan, Carl (December 16, 2011). "Celebrating Sue Mosteller". Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ Nouwen, Henri (1988). The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey (1st ed.). New York: Doubleday. ISBN 9780385245531. 
  5. ^ Nouwen, Henri (1997). Adam: God’s Beloved (1st ed.). Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books. ISBN 9781570759949. 
  6. ^ L'Arche Daybreak fonds held at the John M. Kelly Library, St. Michael's College, Toronto.
  7. ^ Dr. Thérèse Vanier (1923-2014) obituary, theglobeandmail.com; accessed 2 October 2014.
  8. ^ "L'Arche | About L'Arche Kent". www.larche.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-08. 
  9. ^ "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 resources[edit]