Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speaking at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. presented us a powerful image:

“Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. It really boils down to this: that all of life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

The image Martin Luther King, Jr. gave in the quote above beautifully reflects the mission and identity of L’Arche. We are unique individuals, who join together in distinctive local communities, woven into a multicultural national body, and an international federation. This diversity is our beauty and our strength – it is also our challenge.

L’Arche Members from different nations weave a tapestry at the Federation Assembly in Belfast 2017

We launched our work in 2017 with a cultural competency assessment and training for our national staff. The work continued at the Central Regional Gathering this January, where our diversity team facilitated a storytelling workshop and launched our inclusion survey.

We have a vision of L’Arche USA as an intercultural effective network of communities where people of diverse identities have a deep sense of belonging, their gifts are celebrated, and their leadership is encouraged. As such, diversity is a priority of L’Arche USA’s 2015-2020 strategic plan. We launched our work last year with an intercultural effectiveness assessment and training for our national staff. Over the next three years, we will work to:

  • Assess the current racial, ethnic and religious diversity, cultural attitudes, and intercultural effectiveness of L’Arche USA communities.
  • Create a Diversity Action Plan and resources to implement strategies to increase and support diversity on a local level.
  • Support the development of intercultural effectiveness in L’Arche members and leaders.

Through L’Arche, people with intellectual disabilities and our mutual friendships with one another have taught us that our society can be truly human only if it is founded on welcome and respect for all – especially those who are often misunderstood, overlooked and unheard. Truly seeing and creating spaces to hear from those on the margins is our hope, our mission, our movement to weave a vibrant, life-affirming garment of destiny.

Article Written by: Laura Goble, L’Arche USA Diversity Team Leader