Fritz Schloss of LArche Greater Washington, D.C. blesses Sara Feser. Photo by Brian A. Taylor Photography

Fritz Schloss of L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C. blesses Sara Feser. Photo by Brian A. Taylor Photography

The belief in the inner beauty of each and every human being is at the heart of L’Arche…and at the heart of being human… We do not discover who we are, we do not reach true humanness, in a solitary state; we discover it through mutual dependency, in weakness, in learning through belonging.
—Jean Vanier, “Becoming Human”



L’Arche communities are communities of faith, rooted in prayer and trust in God. The spirituality of L’Arche is grounded in the belief that each person is unique and of sacred value, and that we experience God’s love through mutual friendships in which the gifts and weaknesses of each person are recognized and accepted.

Persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, through their own vulnerability, often have a special gift for touching our hearts. They invite us into relationship and into revealing our humanness. By creating communities where people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities enjoy such mutual friendship, L’Arche seeks to live the Beatitudes – Jesus’ call in the Sermon on the Mount to be people of simplicity, gentleness, compassion, justice and peace.

L’Arche was founded in a village in France in the Roman Catholic tradition. Today, the communities of L’Arche around the world reflect the predominant faith tradition or traditions of the local populations. In the United States, communities are typically inter-denominationally Christian and some are inter-religious. All L’Arche communities welcome people of all faiths and those who are not religiously affiliated.

We had lots of questions when we began communities in India. Inter-religious dialogue or living together is never easy. We sought our own way. We had a little chapel and we put a tiny cross at the center. Then Mohanraj came to us, bringing with him a big picture of Ganesh. Ganesh is a Hindu god in the form of an elephant. We Christians are more used to doves than elephants. But elephants are strong and remove obstacles and blockages.
—Jean Vanier, “Living Gently in a Violent World”