Sunday, June 10, 2012

Australian Highlights at L'Arche International

Twice every decade, delegates from L'Arche come together to share, listen and debate in order to guide the global L’Arche movement towards the future. Following gatherings in Assisi, Italy and Kolkata, India, this International Assembly was held in Atlanta, USA

A daily journal and video of the Assembly activities is available online here. Some highlights with Australian content  from the Assembly included:


The General Assembly decided upon the future plans for the L’Arche mandate, based on four dreams– Living our mission, Developing leadership, Involvement in our cultures and societies, and shaping the Federation.

The rich spiritual diversity of L'Arche Communities was reflected in the worship during the assembly.Monsignor Pierre D’Ornellas, Archbishop of Rennes, France celebrated Eucharist on Monday June 4. He is the representative of the Roman Catholic Church for the L’Arche International Church Leaders Group. The following day, June 5 the reformed church service was led by Jim Cowie, minister in the presbyterian Church of Scotland, and member of the L'Arche international Church Representatives Group.

On June 6 the interfaith celebration was animated by 8 different people. Soumaya Khalifa, Aicha Stoman and her son Yusuf represented the Muslim faith. Rabbi Loren Lapidus, Rachel Weidland and her brother Bret represented the Jewish faith. Subrata and Seema from the community Asha Niketan in India represented the Hindu faith. Finally, Rajesh who's also from L'Arche Asha Niketan, represented the Jain faith.

On Thursday June 7 Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft from Perth celebrated the Eucharist with Katharine Jefferts-Schori, presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the USA.

On Friday June 8 the delegates had the privilege to be welcomed in some of the most historically important churches in downtown Atlanta. These, all situated in the Sweet Auburn district, were at a walking distance from Martin Luther King Jr.’s own Baptist Church, Ebenezer, and the MLK Center. The Sweet Auburn district is known as what used to be the heart of the African-American neighborhood. It was definitely a central point during the Civil Rights Movement.

The L'Arche Story
L’Arche International has its roots in the foundation of the first L’Arche community in 1964 in Trosly-Breuil, a village north of Paris. Following the suggestion of his mentor Father Thomas Philippe, a Dominican priest, Jean Vanier, son of a former Governor General of Canada, decided to invite Raphaël Simi and Philippe Seux to live with him in a small house which he named L’Arche, the French word for the Ark.

From this small beginning more than forty years ago the L’Arche Federation today encompasses 131 communities in more than 30 countries on five continents.

The Australian Story
The L'Arche community in Canberra is known as L'Arche Genesaret. It had its beginnings in the early 1970s, and in April 1978 welcomed its first member at a former convent at Bungendore, a village 20 kilometres east of Canberra. To offer better work and recreation opportunities, the community relocated to Yarralumla, in Canberra, in 1980. It bought its own home at Chifley in 1982, and two years later, in 1984, opened a second home. A third home was established in 1986. Today L'Arche Genesaret maintains three houses and two self-contained flats in the Canberra suburbs of Chifley and Curtin, providing accommodation for 13 people with disability. Other L'Arche Communities have been founded in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and  Hobart. Friends of L'Arche are now established in The Humter and Perth




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