L’Arche is an international federation of communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together. Communities offer people with intellectual disability a home where they will be valued and respected, their gifts welcomed and celebrated.
L’Arche began in France in 1964 when Jean Vanier, a Canadian, invited two men from an institution, Philleppe Sieux and Raphael Simi, to live with him. From these humble beginnings in rural France, there are now 140 communities in 36 countries. The communities, while sharing the same values are very different according to their context and culture.
L’Arche communities bear witness to the reality that persons with intellectual disabilities possess inherent qualities of welcome, wonderment, spirituality, and friendship. We make explicit the dignity of every human being by building inclusive communities of relationship, transformation and sign where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together.
L’Arche communities are faith based. We welcome people of all faiths and none. We believe that in order to grow we need to nurture the whole person, including our inner selves. We therefore make time for regular prayer and reflection within community life. This spirituality is central to what we do and who we are.
Servant Leadership & Subsidiarity
We share our identity and mission and common policies but L’Arche is not a typical organisation with a top down management structure. Instead, we are committed to the concepts of servant leadership and subsidiarity: wherever and whenever possible decisions are taken by those who they affect most. People with disabilities play a vital role in this process. Find out more about L’Arche and inclusion.(Insert link)
L’ Arche International is legally incorporated in France, and governed by a 9 member International Board. Executive leadership is exercised by two international leaders. With the support of a small international team, they are responsible for maintaining the unity and spirit of L’Arche, and shaping the overall direction of the Federation through the provision of training, communication tools and personnel, administrative and financial back-up. In each country where L’Arche is established, we seek the official recognition for our work by the state, each community operating autonomously as a member of the International Federation of L’Arche.
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