Grade 10 Enriched Religion had the amazing opportunity to visit L’Arche Daybreak centre in Toronto.
This world renowned centre is the first and largest L’Arche community in North America. It has been the home to inspirational giants, such as, Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen.
L’Arche says this about itself: “L’Arche is built on the recognition of the ability of individuals with intellectual disabilities to welcome and accept others as they are. We believe that this gift has an important and transformative effect, helping each one of us to become more fully human and thus helping to humanize our entire society.” What stood out for us was that although our culture places much emphasis on achievement and intellectual ability, there is a deeper way to be human – being from the heart. We saw how language shapes our reality. The people, whom we would normally call “residents” are “core members of the community” and those we would call “staff” are “assistants”. Our visit to L’Arche gave us insights into how to live not as “us and them” but how to see everyone as “us”.
One story that stands out is from a conversation between a core member and Jean Vanier. The core member was expressing how difficult it was when assistants left after being part of the community for a year or two. Jean understood this but said, “They are not leaving us. We are sending them out. They are not the same as they were when they came to us. They have been changed and now we can celebrate that we are sending them out to change the world.”