L'Arche (French for "The Ark) was founded in 1964 in Trosly-Breuil, France, by Jean Vanier, so that people with disabilities could live in a family setting rather than institutions. It didn't take long for his ideas to spread, and within two years, similar homes began in India, England and Canada, homes where it is understood that people who are often rejected and despised by the world have much to teach us about life and love.
Today, there are 137 L'Arche communities all over the globe, and we celebrate Family Day each October because, as our Charter says,
On Friday evening, our L'Arche family in Edmonton is gathering to celebrate our world-wide family by holding a Solidarity Fundraiser for our sister communities in Central and South America. The evening features a cornucopia of international dishes prepared by our assistants, who come from all over. There will be entertainment (I'm hearing rumours of a Psy ("dress classy, dance cheesy") performance from our Koreans, which will undoubtedly be a big hit as our community loves to dance!) and the food can't be beat. So if you would like to meet our L'Arche family, join us at St. Thomas D'Aquin Church (8410 89 St) at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 19th. Tickets are $10, with all proceeds going to L'Arche in Central and South America.Home life is at the heart of a L'Arche Community. The different members of a community are called to be one body. They live, work, pray and celebrate together, sharing their joys and their suffering and forgiving each other, as in a family. They have a simple life-style, which gives priority to relationships.The same sense of communion unites the various communities throughout the world. Bound together by solidarity and mutual commitment, they form a world-wide family.
I wish I could post all the beautiful pictures and cards from my inbox, but it's a tricky process. A few of them can be found here. I love the quote attributed to Jean Vanier on one of the cards we received from overseas (translated from French): "To advance peace in the world, we must break the walls that we have built around our hearts."
Family Day celebrations are one of my favourite ways to do that -- please join us if you're in the neighbourhood!