A brief history of L’Arche
L’Arche began in France on August 4, 1964. Jean Vanier, a Canadian professor of philosophy and retired naval officer, was searching for his calling. He was invited by his spiritual director to visit some institutions for men with intellectual disabilities in France. He was disturbed by the rejection and loneliness of the men he met, yet also moved by their openness. He felt called to share his life in community with some of them.
With support from benefactors and professionals, Jean renovated a small home in a village called Trosly-Breuil, France. He called it “L’Arche” (the ark) and invited a few of the men to live with him. Life together was challenging, yet full of joy. It was a place of growth for them and inspiration to others.
From these humble roots, L’Arche grew quickly, attracting many young people. Jean spoke about what he was discovering through mutual relationship with the men and later women in his growing community. In 1969, L’Arche opened in Richmond Hill, Ontario. In 1970, L’Arche expanded to India thus becoming interfaith and multi-cultural.
Today, there are 149 L’Arche communities and 14 projects in 37 countries around the world.