L'Arche is French for The Ark—the place that Noah and his family created and entered under God’s direction. The Ark is a place of safety and refuge, a place in which we share our lives in mutual relationship and do our small part to renew the world.
L'Arche is an international federation of intentional communities in which people with and without intellectual disabilities live, work, play and pray together, creating home. Core members – persons with disabilities – make up the heart of our communities. Those who live and share life with them are called assistants.
French Canadian Jean Vanier founded L'Arche as a Catholic organization in 1964 in Trosly, France when he invited two men with disabilities to come live with him. From this humble beginning, L'Arche has grown to include over 135 communities in 36 countries throughout the world. Today, L’Arche includes around 5,000 people from many different cultures, speaking more than 20 languages. L’Arche has evolved into an ecumenical organization welcoming people from all religious traditions, and those with no tradition at all. Still, faith in God is at the heart of our life together.
Each L’Arche community is unique and autonomous but internationally federated. We all share a common vision of the basic dignity of each human person and the centrality of mutual relationship between God and each person and between persons of all races, religions, cultures and abilities. We seek to create home and provide meaningful work for all our community members and to witness to a way of life where everyone is recognized as being of equal and infinite value.
L'Arche Chicago opened as the 14th community in the United States. This is our story...