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8787: Re: 8768: What is L'Arche and where in Haiti? (fwd)

From: Louise Boissonnault <lboiss@nbnet.nb.ca>

Dear Nancy, 

For a definition of the L'Arche community, here is an excerpt of the text I
found on the conference program when I went to listen to Jean Vanier:
" The seed of l'Arche was planted when one man took a step of faith in
compassion.  Jean Vanier says that when he originally welcomed Raphael and
Philippe to come live with him (men with intellectual disabilities and
institutionalized) it was with no thought of beginning a work or creating a
community as such.  There was no plan except to make home with two rejected
men and his inspiration - the beatitudes of Jesus.  Their first little
run-down house he named L'Arche (the ark).  Jean shared his vision, his
faith, his gentle wisdom wherever he was invited to speak, often in areas
of poverty and neglect.  It was not long before others were inspired to
found communities of welcome for men and women with intellectual handicaps
modeled after L'Arche.  Today there exists a world wide federation of such
communities, surpassing the barriers of cultures, religions, and languages,
given to the same mission, linked by the same character....  By creating
bonds between people of all ages, intellectual levels, religious traditions
and social classes, L'Arche hopes to act as a bridge amidst the divisions
of our world."

And a brief description of Jean Vanier found on the first page of his book
"Becoming Human":
"Jean Vanier is the son of former governor general of Canada Georges
Vanier, and founder of l'Arche, an international network of communities for
people with intellectual disabilities.  In 1964, after years of studying
and teaching philosophy and theology, Vanier bought a house in
Trosly-Breuil, France, and invited two men with intellectual disabilities
to live with him.  He named that home l'Arche, after Noah's ark - both a
place of refuge and of new beginnings.  L'Arche is now a network of more
than one hundred communities in thirty countries (26 in Canada), inhabited
by people with disabilities and their caregivers.  Their goal is to achieve
a sense of community and dignity not possible within an intitution.  He is
also co-founder, with Marie-Hélène Mathieu, of Faith and Light which brings
together people with disabilities, their parents and friends, for regular
times of meeting.  There are now 1300 Faith and Light communities in
seventy-five countries."

Thank you so much for the many replies received, including from Evelyne
Bazin-Verdier, president of Arche-Haiti, who tells me l'Arche has been in
Haiti for 25 years.