History of L'Arche
The first L’Arche community was founded in 1964 in Trosly-Breuil, a village nearly 60 miles northeast of Paris by Jean Vanier, son of a former Governor General of Canada. While in Trosly Jean met many people with developmental disabilities who were living in institutions. He was disturbed by the lives they led and he purchased a small house and welcomed two men with developmental disabilities to live with him. He named their home "L’Arche", the French word for "the Ark".
Word spread and young people from various parts of theworld came to the community in Trosly to share their life with people with an intellectual disability. Although not anticipated by Jean, some of these people were inspired by the vision of L’Arche and founded a L’Arche community in other towns and countries. By 1975, there were 30 communities in France, Canada, India, Africa and Haiti. From a small house in Trosly, L'Arche has expanded to 147 communities in 35 countries around the world.
Although its roots were in the Roman Catholic tradition, L’Arche has become both ecumenical and inter-faith, united in a shared vision and spirit, realized through mutually transforming relationships.
In March 2015 it was announced that Jean Vanier was awarded the prestigious 2015 Templeton Prize for "for his innovative discovery of the central role of vulnerable people in the creation of a more just, inclusive and humane society". Previous winners include Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, and Desmond Tutu.