As the former Development Director, I spread the good news of L’Arche Erie, expressing who we are and what we do. By creating home, we transform lives, one heart at a time. I lived in a L’Arche home with four men with intellectual disabilities and two people without intellectual disabilities. I was also an assistant, a person without intellectual disabilities who help people with intellectual disabilities. It was during this time that my life was transformed. Most people would think that the people moving from an institution into a home would be the individuals whose lives are transformed, but in L’Arche it’s both; it’s a mutually transforming relationship.
Four months after I joined the L’Arche Erie community, I went on a recommended L’Arche retreat where I meditated on a quote by our international founder, Jean Vanier. It states, “People may come to our communities because they want to serve the poor; they will only stay once they have discovered that they themselves are the poor. ~ Jean Vanier, From Brokenness to Community, p.20
My world was turned upside down. Like many people who stay in L’Arche, I will continue to live the Gospel Beatitudes, which are found in the Bible (Matthew 5:1-12).
No L’Arche Erie community is perfect; as a matter of fact, we celebrate our imperfections, recognizing one another’s limitations while striving to grow and be the best we can be (without comparison). I pray that others who will get involved will discover the beauty that I discovered.
“Through the hands of God’s little ones, we ask His blessing. Through the eyes of those who have been rejected, we ask God to smile on us.” Excerpt from the L’Arche Prayer
My uncle, Fr. George Strohmeyer, helped get the L'arche movement started in the USA. What L'arche does for adults with disabilities is give them a home that they can learn to live with others in a faith based atmosphere. The residents and support people of the L'arche communities are so loving and non-judgemental. They all make me smile!!
L'Arche Erie belongs to an International Federation that provides homes for adults with intellectual disabilities. Being the first L'Arche community in the USA out of 18, L'Arche is a place where mutual relationships and trust in God iare at the heart of our life. We are not just an agency, but a place where we recognize each others gifts and find ways to celebrate them. I say it is often hard to describe our life in words because it is what we LIVE that expresses the spirit and joy of L'Arche reflected through our core members and those who share life with them. L'Arche transforms lives one heart at a time.