Category Archives: L’Arche

1 July 2022: Praying with Pope Francis: Old People.

Saint Joachim, grandfather of Jesus.

Here is Pope Francis’s prayer intention for July.

We pray for the elderly, 
who represent the roots and memory of a people; 
may their experience and wisdom 
help young people to look towards the future 
with hope and responsibility.

Pope Francis has been speaking quite a lot about old age recently. Representing the roots and memory of a people is a quite responsibility for us oldies. It’s more important than you might think, until you realise that only two or three people remember events that were important at the time and helped shape our community or family today. And as for important people!

A couple of years ago a story popped into my head about a woman from Canada who helped shape our L’Arche community, back in 1975. I tracked down her brother who shared the story with her daughter – my friend had died between times. He wrote back, sharing his niece’s reaction, overjoyed to read about her mother, and a story hitherto unknown to her. ‘What a gift!’ she had said.

Yes, memory is a gift, not only for old persons but for those who are energised by the stories of beginnings and growth, prosperity and hardship. Maybe this July could be a month of sharing memories, sharing experiences and hope. Praying for the elderly might well include listening to them and recording their wisdom.

Follow this link to Independent Catholic News and Pope Francis’s video message for today.

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26 April: Who should not live?

Leeds University War Memorial, Eric Gill.

It makes no sense that having Down’s syndrome is considered reason enough for an unborn child to be aborted. Not if you know one or two people with Down’s; and as Adam Rutherford reminds us:

None of the worst crimes of humanity … was perpetrated by people with Down’s syndrome … If we truly wanted to reduce the sum total of human suffering then we should eradicate the powerful, for wars are fought by people but started by leaders.

Adam Rutherford: Control: the Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics.

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Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, L'Arche, Laudato si'

24 April: Columban Missionary Prayer of creation.

L’Arche entering Canterbury Cathedral, celebrating difference, celebrating unity, celebrating God’s earthly presence. Alleluia!

It’s still Easter, so let’s experience God’s earthly presence in the members of the multitude of humanity!

Loving God,
you created and brought forth humanity
to flower as a multitude of cultures.

Open our eyes and ears to your ways
so that each day 
we can better experience your earthly presence
and praise you.

Help us to grow in wisdom and goodness
witnessing that you sustain
all that exists.

AMEN

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, L'Arche, Mission

Good Friday gifts

The solemnity of today will be overwhelmed by the joy of Easter, but there were tokens of the coming feast for those with eyes to see.

Before the sun was properly up I was looking into the back garden. What was that hunched figure inspecting the flowerpots? A hedgehog woken from hibernation and going about its business, ridding us of a few pests. That was enough to mark the day.

After the prayerful L’Arche Good Friday service some of us found our way to the Glebe garden, where a shrine had been built of willow wands. If this was intended to be a place of quiet reflection it soon became a meeting place for people who had barely seen each other during covid; another hint of the resurrection to come.

Flitting across the garden was a brimstone butterfly, a caterpillar died but transformed into a creature of beauty no less wondrous for being totally expected.

Then to my task of adorning the church porch. The Easter garden needed the finishing touches, Mary’s jar of ointment and the grave cloths hidden behind the door (a scallop shell to be rolled to one side). What concerned me was the Easter lilies. We had some in flower the last two years, but it had been touch and go this time. Since today was warm, the first flowers were unfurling to be bright and white on Easter Day.

In the evening down to the Cathedral to hear Faure’s Requiem, with its upbeat finish: May the Angels welcome you to Paradise, may the martyrs meet you and lead you to the Holy City of Jerusalem.

Walking home from the Cathedral in the glowing dusk, under the Easter full moon, three blackbirds, singing their hearts out, serenading the new life hatched in their nests. They will be busy tomorrow, as no doubt will I, but by these tokens and by other sure evidence I know that my redeemer liveth.

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Filed under corona virus, Easter, Interruptions, L'Arche, Lent, PLaces, Spring

27 March, Laetare Sunday: Make an Easter Garden.

Laetare Sunday is three weeks before Easter. ‘Laetare’ means ‘rejoice’, have a joyful Sunday! Perhaps this is a good time to think ahead to Easter, so here’s a project for you. Last year Vincent and Maurice made Easter Gardens for the locked-down L’Arche Kent houses, and the slide show tells how we did it.

You don’t need to use big pots like these, especially if yours will be displayed indoors. Ours were outside people’s houses or St Mildred’s church for a few weeks, so we used big pots to keep the plants alive.

We think the houses could make their own gardens this year, so here’s our helpful guide. You’ve got three weeks, so start off by collecting the pits and pieces. Don’t forget to share your photos by emailing maurice.billingsley1@btopenworld.com .

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Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Easter, L'Arche, Lent, PLaces, Spring

8 March: Being Different Together

Being Different Together

We continue on our way through Lent. This post is an invitation to transcend false perceptions and be more conscious of the gifts and needs of people with a learning disability, through the eyes and heart of L’Arche. This link will lead you to the page about the impact of the last couple of years on our communities, with more pictures and videos of how L’Arche is trying to help. You will also find tabs leading to more about the people who make L’Arche.

Around 1.5 million people in the United Kingdom are thought to have a learning disability. Of these, 147,920 are accessing long-term support.

Many people with a learning disability experience multiple forms of inequality and discrimination throughout their lives: only 6% of adults with learning disability in England are in paid work; people with learning disability are seven times more likely to including chronic loneliness; the difference in median age of death between people with a learning disability and the general population is 23 years for men and 27 years for women.

What L’Arche is doing to help

The source of discrimination lies in the false perception that people with learning disabilities are unable to make positive contributions to the world around them. L’Arche challenges this by creating Communities where people with and without learning disabilities share their lives, from which we work together for a more human society.

L’Arche Communities are rooted in the simple activities of daily life: preparing a meal or making a handicraft together, going for a walk, sharing a cup of tea, celebrating a birthday. Every day, we grow extraordinary friendships through ordinary activities.

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Filed under corona virus, Daily Reflections, L'Arche, Lent, Mission

7 March: Together at table.

Mealtime in Community by Henri Nouwen

The point is that you say these are moments where we live community with one another around the table. Everybody’s there. Perhaps we have a candle or flowers, or a song and a prayer, and we take our time. Whatever you do, we are not eating in order to just fill our bellies and go back to work. We are eating together in community, to be together around the same food and to nurture ourselves. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. So if you don’t have these things, I think a good thing for a community to do is to constantly revisit the question: Are we still eating well together? Or have our meals become something similar to fast-food places?

I know a family or a community from the way they behave at the table. It can be: This is peaceful. This is wonderful. I’m welcome here. But if everybody is watching television, others are running off for phone calls, then nobody’s really ever there. So to say, we will do everything possible to make sure that everyone is there, that we are not doing other things like telephoning, listening to the radio, or watching television on the side. This is a sacred hour. And in our culture there are very few families who can do that. So it’s not obvious in our culture. And I just picked up a McDonald’s hamburger yesterday on the way here.

Another aspect of being conscious, as we are trying to be this Lent, is being conscious of being together, conscious of each others gifts and needs. One of the best places for this to occur is the meal table, where the family or other community is gathered. Henri Nouwen lived in the Daybreak L’Arche Community in Ontario, but these thoughts are worth pondering for any community, gathered round a table or bar or on a seaside bench. This extract from his book ‘Community’ is part of a longer extract published by Plough magazine.

Read it here.

The book ‘Community’ by Henri Nouwen can be bought on line or from bookshops.

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Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, L'Arche, Lent, Mission

20 February: Over and gone with Edward Thomas.

540px-Apus_apus_01.jpg (540×720)

Last summer I spotted Helen, a colleague from L’Arche, standing near our gate, staring into the sky. She was watching for swifts, those well-named insect-eating migrants who scream around our homes when the weather brings the flies near enough to the ground. At other times they may be far away or high above the earth, gathering food for their nestlings, but generally in groups. I was able to tell Helen that I generally saw about eight birds flying together. Did I know where they were nesting? I had not observed this, but our neighbourhood has many late 19th Century houses with gaps under the roof sufficient for swifts to enter and breed. However it’s not easy to identify the spot where they get in, so a census is difficult to take. But there are roughly half as many swifts as there were 20 years ago.

Another time we met outside Saint Dunstan’s church, where there are swift nesting boxes on the outside wall of the church hall. In the few minutes we stood there, we observed no birds going in or out. Past experience suggests that a new-smelling box will not be used in its first year, so no need to despair there.

Other local birds are really ‘over and gone’, and not just for one winter; especially the house martin, another migrant fly-eater. To think: they nested in this street when we moved here, but one house had table tennis balls hung from the eaves to deter martins from building their mud-brick houses and, yes, dropping their excrement on the path below, but even so.

The RSPB tell how to make a swift box here. We are sharing this now to allow readers in Europe time to make and install boxes before the swifts return.

How at Once by Edward Thomas

How at once should I know,
When stretched in the harvest blue
I saw the swift's black bow,
That I would not have that view
Another day
Until next May
Again it is due?

The same year after year—
But with the swift alone.
With other things I but fear
That they will be over and done
Suddenly
And I only see
Them to know them gone.

(from "Poems" by Edward Thomas)

Swift By Paweł Kuźniar (Jojo_1, Jojo) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=962740

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Filed under Daily Reflections, L'Arche, Laudato si', PLaces, poetry, Summer

14 February: The place that I’m at home in: this is my vocation XII.

Since I met my wife when we were independently visiting L’Arche, I am happy to post this video on Valentine’s Day. We have much to be grateful for; not just each other but also the friends we have made through the community.

The speakers in this little film are assistants, community members without a learning disability, all of them in the community long-term. If you would like to learn more about life in L’Arche, the website address is at the end of the video: http://www.larche.org.uk. Get in touch! Come and see!

Will T

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Apprenticeships with L’Arche



Find out more at our webinars on 16th February

In partnership with Springpod
 L’Arche Apprenticeships (Health and Social Care) offer a unique opportunity to learn new skills, build friendships and receive valuable health and social care training – all while experiencing the fun and joy of sharing life with adults who have learning disabilities. We’re partnering with careers platform ‘Springpod’ to present a virtual insight event where members of the L’Arche team will share their experiences.

We would love to invite you to come along and hear for yourself what makes L’Arche such a special place to learn and grow.   
On Wednesday 16th February,
we’ll be hosting two live webinars*: 

 *recordings of the sessions will be available online for one year  
Session #1 From care to community: what people with learning disability really want | 11am 
Community not institutions! That’s what people with a learning disability have demanded. But how do you create inclusive communities where one of the most under-represented groups in the country really belong? Discover what L’Arche is doing and why it’s so important.  

 Session #2 Become a community-builder – while getting an apprenticeship! | 12pm 
L’Arche is a movement with 11 communities across the UK and more than 150 worldwide. You don’t need to choose between developing your career and contributing to a life-changing cause. Discover how you could get a Health and Social Care apprenticeship while sharing life in community with people who have a learning disability.  
You can sign up to attend our virtual insight event here: Sign me up! We know that you have a busy few months ahead as you get ready to leave school…

Apprenticeship Weeks are happening around the UK (England and Wales 7-13 February; Scotland 7-11 March), packed with events and resources to give you the low-down on apprenticeships and help you as you make your next steps. We’ve decided to host our webinars outside of these weeks, on Wednesday 16th February, to give you the opportunity to attend as many events as seem relevant to you. For many students, this date falls in the half term break.

If you’re not able to join us live, the recorded event will be available online for a year.   Who are the webinars for? 

Anyone considering an apprenticeship is welcome to attend our webinars.
Those we take on at L’Arche are proactive, friendly people who enjoy getting stuck in and building community.
We think an apprenticeship at L’Arche could appeal to Psychology, Sociology or Health and Social Care students.
However, we’re much more concerned about taking on apprentices who will embrace a new challenge with enthusiasm, than we are about what courses you’ve been studying at school or college. 
 What will the webinars be like? Each of our two webinars will be around 45 minutes in length.
During that time, we’ll introduce you to L’Arche and its culture, as well as some of the people who are enjoying working with L’Arche at the moment.
We’ll make the sessions interactive, so you’ll have a chance to ask questions and get involved!
The event will be recorded and available to view online for a year. 
 What will happen after the webinars? We appreciate the time taken by everyone who applies to be a L’Arche Apprentice. That’s why we are committed to offering a guaranteed interview to all applicants who attend our webinars. Once the webinars are live, we’ll direct you to the application process.   We hope to see you there! Sign me up!

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Filed under Christian Unity, Justice and Peace, L'Arche, Mission, PLaces