How to Start a L’Arche Community
“There are three activities that are absolutely vital in the creation of a community. The first is eating together around the same table. The second is praying together. And the third is celebrating together. By celebrating I mean to laugh, to fool around, to have fun, to give thanks together for life. When we are laughing together with belly laughs we are all the same.” —Jean Vanier, “Living Gently in a Violent World”
Currently, there are more than 145 L’Arche communities in the world, and 19 of those are in the United States. We understand that we are small and will never be able to meet all of the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Nevertheless, our communities strive to serve as a sign of hope and to model mutual relationship and friendship in a world that often rejects people who are weak.
The process of founding a new L’Arche community takes time. Before L’Arche USA ever approves a local project to welcome people with disabilities into the first home, it is essential that the project has a wide network of financial and spiritual support, a well-functioning board and trained leadership, and that it is fully accredited with local governmental agencies to provide services. From the initial conception of the group to finally welcoming the first person to live in a home typically takes five to ten years.
If you are interested in starting a L’Arche community, please first see if you are near one of our established or emerging communities. If there is no community near you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so the appropriate person can be in touch to answer your questions.