What It’s Like to Have L’Arche as a Neighbor

Rose Mattax

Published 21 December 2022

My husband John and I have been fortunate enough to live across the street from Peace House since they moved here in January 2015. One of my first memories of what it was like to have them as neighbors was when Kate and Jean showed up with a plate of homemade cookies.  That was seven years ago.

Since then, memories of these good neighbors have piled up like countless Christmas presents under the tree. Here are a few favorites: Watching David and Caitlin fall in love. Watching Joy and Nelson fall in love. Watching Evangeline and Katie fall in love. Watching Carlo and Molly fall in love. Watching Ryan and Ellie fall in love. Watching…well, as you can see, there’s a lot of falling in love that happens in L’Arche!

I also have a mountain of memories involving the core members. Like taking Jean to a local restaurant for an O’Doul’s only to watch her charm the waitress out of a stuffed animal that was part of a display. Or playing raucous games of Uno with Noah every Wednesday. And one memory that is “hot off the press”: my first letter from Anders!

One important evolution in my growing relationship to L’Arche as neighbors occurred about five years ago, when we began renting our upstairs apartment to current and former assistants. I jokingly suggested that this made our house “Peace House Annex.” The nickname has stuck; it warms my heart to know we may continue to help L’Arche for years to come in this way.

This year our annual Tree Trimming party was almost the “Party That Didn’t Happen.” The regular attendees at Peace House and some other community members couldn’t make it, but luckily Angel House and our upstairs neighbors KC, Kelly & and their son, Bryan (now two years old) showed up to save the day. When John and I were sick over Thanksgiving, Peace House came to our rescue, bringing us food to feed our colds and starve our fevers.

I don’t know what I’d do without L’Arche as my neighbor. When I was a child “neighborhood” equaled “community.” But for many reasons we’ve lost that. L’Arche has helped to renew a sense of what neighborliness is all about—taking care of each other through prayer, care and spending time together. If a L’Arche house moves into your neighborhood, you’ll be sure to see what it means to “love thy neighbor.”

And what it’s like to have homemade cookies delivered to your door.