L’Arche turns the page at 60

A world class event ! This is what a small corner of Brittany in northern France has just witnessed: across many potential barriers of language, faith, life-outlook, age, social background, physical or intellectual ability (and anything else you can name) L’Arche in France pulled out all its creative stops in order to celebrate L’Arche’s 60th anniversary in style over 3 days, at St. Anne d’Auray. Each session was an imaginative showcase for brilliant dramatic, musical and artistic talent. And between sessions, connection time. The queues at the diverse food caravans were ideal opportunities to renew old friendships or make new links. On the final evening, some were still dancing at midnight! 

Credit: François Becker

Necessarily, this was a party with a purpose: no-one brings together 2200 community members with and without disabilities just for the fun of it, even for L’Arche’s first large-scale in-person event since lockdown. Given the shocking revelations about the abusive behaviour of Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, and his mentor Thomas Philippe, a ‘together’ moment like this, was just what the global Federation needed. Collectively, we stood and took responsibility both for our past, and for the future we can create together. In the words of Pierre Jacquand, Leader of L’Arche France, we have come through a storm and we are still standing.’ And that ‘we’ is both L’Arche’s daily reality and our direction of travel: the full inclusion of each person, with and without an intellectual disability. 

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