Our Story About

Our History

The L'Arche International story began with Jean Vanier in 1964, and came to London in 1991.  Find out more about the amazing history of L'Arche London.

Our History

House of Hope

In 1964, Canadian Jean Vanier invited two men with intellectual disabilities to live with him in an old house in Trosly-Breuil France. He named the house L’Arche after Noah’s Ark and gradually welcomed, not only more men and women with developmental disabilities but assistants who would live and work with them. Since then L’Arche has grown into an international federation of more than 140 communities in nearly 40 countries.

A New Beginning

In 1991, a small group of people with an interest in L’Arche gathered to pray and lay the ground work for L’Arche London. We have three homes, Cana (opened in August,1997), Jubilee (opened in March, 2003) and Bethany (opened in February 2008). There are twelve core members, and twelve live-in assistants who form the heart of the community.  L’Arche London is part of L’Arche Ontario which includes nine L’Arche communities in the province.

"A community is never there just for its own glory. It comes from and belongs to something much deeper: the heart of God yearning to bring humanity to fulfillment." Jean Vanier

A Call to Growth

By welcoming people with disabilities to a safe, stable home, L’Arche empowers them in turn to welcome others - including the assistants who are drawn to the community from all over the world  The experience of living community fosters personal growth, competence, and lasting friendships. Just as assistants are always needed to maintain the ordinary life that has such an extraordinary effect on those who experience it, so are ‘friends of L’Arche’, who are willing to contribute time, skills, or financial support to L’Arche London’s crucial future.

"Whatever their gifts or their limitations, all people are bound together in a common humanity." L’Arche Charter

In a world that often sees people with intellectual disabilities as less than whole, L’Arche celebrates the gifts of each person as gifts to be shared.  Here, core members are teachers whose limitations inspire other paths to growth. At L’Arche there are no outsiders. Core members are at the heart of a community dedicated to helping them realize their potential through a full life that guarantees their fundamental rights to a home, to meaningful relationships, to an education, to satisfying work, to fun. It is through sharing with those that have some form of disability that we realize our own disabilities and can move toward our own healing process. 

Care is given where ever needed, but core members are encouraged to take an active part in the work and play of the household.

"The person with a mental handicap teaches us the way of trust, of simplicity, of love, of unity" Jean Vanier

Home is at the Centre

Home life is the cornerstone of L’Arche. Prayer is an important part of each day. The people of L’Arche London are enriched by the daily prayer after the evening meal and regular worship service in the home.

L’Arche London welcomes members of all faiths.