L’Arche International Family Day

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:

Institutional life – a bit of context

Raphael Amato offers some background on the role of institutions in the 20th century

Listening to and amplifying the voices of marginalized people

Each message pays tribute first to a person’s story, highlighting and sharing the richness and diversity of these heartfelt testimonies.

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.

Setting our course for the next 50 years

Looking forward to an era where L’Arche people with and without disabilities join with others of like spirit to advocate and change society – making it more inclusive for everyone.

L’Arche London’s Gathering Place

One example of the increased impact L’Arche communities are having across Canada

Celebrating Jean Vanier at 90

Jean Vanier is 90. L’Arche in Canada extends sincere gratitude and best wishes to our founder, guide, and companion in the journey, our friend Jean.

Investing in Justice for Institutional Survivors

Patricia Seth, an institutional survivor, put it this way, “It was like living in a prison. The only thing is, we didn't know when we would even get out.” Inspired by the founding story of L’Arche, L’Arche in Ontario is engaging in Investing in Justice, a series of projects promoting healing and belonging, truth and reconciliation for survivors.

L’Arche Beloeil Art Workshop “Le Pot-en-Ciel”

Le Pot-en-Ciel is an art workshop that would not be if it weren’t for one member of L’Arche Beloeil who dreamed of a place where he and fellow artists could draw and paint together in a spirit of sharing and mutual teaching. Photography by Jonathan Boulet-Groulx.

Summer in the Forest: One L’Arche Perspective

Summer in the Forest is an extraordinary film – a feature-length documentary by British filmmaker Randal Wright beautifully shot and scored. The subjects of the film are Jean Vanier and several members of his community of L’Arche Trosly in France and of the L’Arche community in Bethlehem. (Vanier speaks in English with dialogue in French and Arabic with English subtitles.)

Holocaust Education Week: Remembering Aktion T4, the Nazi Euthanasia Program

A few years ago, I went with Mel Kirzner, a man with an intellectual disability who welcomed me to L’Arche in 1985, to visit the Maxwell and Ruth Leroy Holocaust Remembrance Garden at the Reena Community Residence in Vaughan.