Our Founder

How it all began

The story of L’Arche begins in 1964. Canadian philosopher Jean Vanier (vahn-‘yai), with the support of his spiritual director Father Thomas Philippe, invited two men with intellectual disabilities to live with him in a small house in the French village of Trosley-Breuil. He named their house L’Arche (lärsh) after Noah’s Ark. Gradually, Vanier welcomed more men and woman with intellectual disabilities and brought in assistants to live and work with them.

Since then, L’Arche has grown into an international federation of 147 faith-based communities in 35 countries on 6 continents.

L’Arche international priorities include:

  • Enhancing the quality of life of people with disabilities
  • Attracting and sustaining assistants
  • Good stewardship
  • Increasing L’Arche’s openness to the wider community
  • Solidarity among L’Arche communities