Honoring the Life-Giving Mission of L’Arche

Learn more about L'arche, founded by Jean Vanier, has helped disabled individuals in more than 35 countries.

Editor’s note: In the spring of 2020, an investigation by the L’Arche organization founded by Jean Vanier found credible the allegations that Vanier sexually exploited six women. Grotto has revised this story to highlight the continuing work of L’Arche to build authentic community between differently abled people.

L’Arche is a network of almost 150 communities in 35 countries around the world where adults with mental disabilities live with caregivers. In the 1960s in France, Jean Vanier visited a government-run psychiatric hospital and was disheartened to see how those people were living. So he invited two men with intellectual disabilities who were institutionalized to come live with him in his home near Paris. 

They shared life together, and the radical community they shared — where the disabled and caregivers live together as equals, each with their own essential contributions to common life — became a model for other homes. The program was named L’Arche, after Noah’s ark. 

We now know that Jean Vanier was not a person of integrity, and while we mourn the loss of his witness, we haven’t lost the L’Arche community. Faithful people continue to carry out its life-giving mission around the world today. This video from L’Arche Atlanta decribes some of the relationships that are fostered in L’Arche.




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