L’Arche is a family of 149 Communities in 38 countries all round the world. In L’Arche Communities people with learning disabilities and their Assistants live and work together. L’Arche is based on Christian principles, welcoming people of all faiths and none. Men and women with learning disabilities aged 18 and over are at our heart. They are people with a wide range of disabilities, independence and needs, from varied backgrounds and of different ages.
L’Arche was founded in 1964 when Jean Vanier, the son of Canadian Governor General Georges Vanier and Pauline Vanier, welcomed two men with disabilities into his home in the town of Trosly-Breuil, France. Through his friendship with Dominican priest Father Thomas Philippe, Vanier became aware of the plight of thousands of people institutionalized with developmental disabilities. Vanier felt led by God to invite two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to leave the institutions where they resided and share their lives with him in a household in Trosly-Breuil, France. He named their home L’Arche.The name “L’Arche” is French for “The Ark”. From this original community in France, 146 other communities have been founded throughout the world in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North and South America. In March, 2008, the international councils of L’Arche and Faith and Light (also founded by Vanier) met for the first time in a joint meeting in Lviv, Ukraine.The international concil of L’Arche was represented by 30 people from 14 countries, and the international council of Faith and Light was represented by 19 people from 17 countries, including France, Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain, Ireland, India, Canada, USA, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Brazil, Uganda, New Zealand, Philippines, and Italy.