L’Arche International Family Day

The first Saturday of October is L’Arche International Family Day. Discover the gift of L’Arche around the world and celebrate our solidarity with one another.

Photo above: Musa, featured in an “As I Am” video

By John Guido with a message by Zoel Breau

Since I was a boy belonging to The World Explorer’s Club, I dreamed of visiting Africa, a continent of vibrant community, rich traditions, dynamic people, and abundant, colourful life. Two years ago, my dream finally came true when I had the chance to visit East Africa for a month. I traveled with a friend, a Holy Cross priest, visiting his communities and spending a week each in L’Arche Uganda and L’Arche Kenya.

Africa was everything I dreamt of and more. To be honest, it was overwhelming. At times, I did not know what was going on – the way food was cooked and what was eaten, the way the house and clothes were cleaned, the music, the traditions, and many other ways were so different than what I know at home. The communities were quite different in many ways too.

Yet from the moment I entered the L’Arche communities, I felt at home and welcomed as if I was family despite my culture and the colour of my skin. Undeterred by my inability to speak their languages, members with intellectual disabilities found ways to communicate and invite me to get to know them. The assistants, most of whom spoke English, shared their joys and struggles in ways that sounded familiar despite the many differences between us. And when we prayed, the language difference disappeared through familiar L’Arche rituals and in singing, drumming, and dancing rooted in their beautiful traditions.

Zoel Breau in Lithuania

On the first Saturday of October, the communities of L’Arche around the world celebrate L’Arche family day. We celebrate both the richness of diversity in our human family and our common humanity, our unique gifts and our need of one another. We stand in solidarity with persons with intellectual disabilities and their families around the world, especially in places where people are at risk, or not included as full citizens, because of their vulnerability.

Photo on left: Zoel Breau (second from left) visiting L’Arche in Lithuania

For the past 6 years, Zoel Breau has been the L’Arche International Delegate to L’Arche communities that are isolated – mostly in the developing world where one or two communities in a country have no national support structure and receive little to no government funding. Now, as he leaves this role to become the Community Leader of Saint John, New Brunswick, Zoel shares his thoughts on the gift of the communities he visited. His dream is for all of who are able to visit these communities and learn from them what community really means.

View Zoel’s video message here.

You can celebrate L’Arche Family day with us!

View L’Arche International’s presentation on Family Day:

To see the Global L’Arche Solidarity Album, visit the International website:

Read about an appeal to help L’Arche Lithuania flourish:

To discover L’Arche powerful stories from around the world visit:

A Hero Behind the Scenes

Beyond firefighters, medical staff, social workers and police officers, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that there are even more heroes among us. Truck drivers, grocery store clerks, cooks and couriers now rightfully hold an esteemed place in our collective consciousness as they put their health at risk to keep society functioning.

From Hyderabad to Lethbridge Who Would’ve Thought?

After Roop Chittineni finished high school in his hometown of Hyderabad, India he moved to Southern Ontario to pursue a degree in Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo. He liked exercising and thought that if he learned more about the human body he could use that knowledge to elevate everyone’s life experience.

Memory Box: Pinewood Floorboards

What does a set of 1940s floorboards have to teach us about COVID living?

Stepping Up

When Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer stated that non-medical masks limit the transmission of COVID-19, L’Arche Saskatoon’s artsy residents also got to work. Out came the fabrics, scissors, thread and needles. Brock wanted to contribute using two of his greatest assets: his feet.

A Light Ahead

The social distancing caused by the pandemic has been trying. Thankfully, aside from those who have donated their time, money and ingenuity to help L’Arche, there are the health care workers, grocery store clerks and all those on the front line who are helping the L’Arche community get through this crisis. With their help, it won’t be long until the Gathering Place opens again and the community starts making new memories.

Second Life

Kris first met Joanna in L’Arche London, Ontario. She encouraged Kris to join L’Arche, and he did. They lived and worked side-by-side for six years until Kris moved to Nova Scotia. Still, they managed to see each other a few times a year and occasionally called one another about matters of life and faith. But this call was different.

The Gift of Dance

Dance is a profound gift; it’s an artistic expression, a mood enhancer, a workout, a surefire way to impress a date and a form of magic. A dancer can transform into a flower, a lion or their favourite pop star. Above all, dance is an act of joy. (We dare you to wiggle around for a minute and not feel happier than you were before.) The gift of dance, and all it provides, has found its way into L’Arche.

Life’s Tough Obstacles

It was late June. A park in Edmonton had been reserved. Food was stacked on picnic tables. Local students of all ages were dressed in taekwondo uniforms, preparing for their annual Break-a-thon. The Break-a-thon is an innovative fundraiser where martial arts students showcase their skills by breaking boards. For each broken board, donations are pledged and raised for L’Arche.

Taking our place in the inclusion movement

It is an important time for the accessibility and inclusion movement in Canada and the world, and L’Arche Canada is developing our capacity to take our place.

Silent encounter with the “man who repairs women”

Denis Mukwege begs us empathetically to remain attentive, to listen deeply to what is inherent in our human condition: our sensitivity and vulnerability.