Unlike many agencies, which operate according to certain medical or social service models of care for persons with disabilities, L’Arche has pioneered a community model based on the belief that human beings develop their abilities and talents most fully when given the opportunity to form mutual relationships of friendship with others.
Within this community model,
- persons with disabilities are called “core members”, rather than “clients”, “patients”, or “consumers”;
- those who provide assistance to core members in our homes are called “assistants”, rather than “staff”, “employees”, or “counselors”;
- assistants and core members live together in homes or apartments in the same way that a family would live together;
- relationships based on friendship are considered to be as important as professional
- relationships in promoting the personal growth of persons with disabilities;
- and everyone in the home-core members and assistants alike-is considered to be equally responsible for the life of the community.
Is L’Arche a religious organization?
As a non-denominational, non-sectarian organization, L’Arche is not officially affiliated with any particular religious tradition. There are people in L’Arche from many Christian traditions, a significant number from non-Christian traditions, and many who claim no religious affiliation.
L’Arche communities are faith-based communities, however, so our daily life does include prayer and reflection. Practically speaking, we say grace before meals, have weekly prayer times, and celebrate the major Christian holidays throughout the year. On a deeper level, we encourage our members to develop their inner lives, taking time for quiet, self-reflection, and meditation.
People are welcomed regardless of whether they belong to a spiritual tradition, with the understanding that part of their role is to support community members in their spiritual lives. This may mean saying grace at the table or accompanying people to church. Everyone is expected to be open and respectful of the faith of others.
The ecumenical and interfaith identity of L’Arche is both rich and challenging. There are joys and struggles. Our choice is for welcome and diversity.
How is L’Arche funded?
L’Arche receives modest funding from provincial governments to cover the costs of its day-to-day operations. As such, it is governed by the same guidelines and licensing regulations as other agencies that support people with disabilities.
All L’Arche communities in Canada are also registered charitable organizations and rely heavily on fundraising to support projects such as work programs, travel, and other services that enhance the quality of our community life.