31 May 2019

Plans for L’Arche house in Adelaide

The Southern Cross June 2019

Plans for L’Arche house in Adelaide

The founder of L’Arche Communities, Jean Vanier, died last month but his legacy will live on in the more than 150 communities in 38 countries around the world.

“Jean has left an extraordinary legacy,” said L’Arche International leader Stephan Posner.

“More than 10,000 people with and without learning disabilities have created places of welcome and celebration as they share life together in the communities.”

There are five L’Arche Communities in Australia and three groups in the process of forming, including in Adelaide where supporters are working towards opening a house in March next year.

The local group last month held a fundraiser movie night featuring Summer in the Forest which documents the experience of the French community L’Arche Trosly.

Born in Canada, Vanier studied philosophy and theology in Paris then lectured at the University of Toronto but returned to France where he became troubled by the institutionalisation of people with intellectual disabilities. He invited two of the men he met, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to leave their institutions and come and join him in his own home, which he named Arche (Ark) after Noah’s Ark.

L’Arche community life coordinator in Adelaide, Suzanne Foley, said a small group of people from different Christian faith denominations had been meeting in Adelaide once a month for about six years and had recently stepped up their fundraising activities.

The group is currently negotiating to rent a church manse on a short-term basis before finding something more permanent. The house, located in Clarence Gardens, will initially provide accommodation for two adults with learning disabilities and two assistants, as well as day programs for a larger group.

“The plan is to expand over time and provide a place where people can live as long as they need to,” she said.

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