Posted on July 4, 2013

The first L'Arche group

The first L’Arche home. From left to right: Henri, Raphael, Philippe, Louis, André (1965). Photo from

Did you know how Jean Vanier started L’Arche? He was deeply touched when he saw the poor conditions of those living in institutions for people with intellectual disabilities. He decided to invite a couple of them to live with him to create a kind family. That act of kindness in 1964 was the beginning of the international federation that L’Arche is today.

Did you know that a Canadian architect helped to find a house, and stayed on to create a home? Louis Pretty’s initial involvement was helping Jean find a suitable home. But Jean’s mentor, Father Thomas Philippe, convinced him to stay on. And he did!

Did you know about Raphael and Philippe?They were the first core members of L’Arche! Raphael was around Jean’s age. He accepted Jean’s invitation to live with him and he later on worked in a L’Arche atelier. Philippe, who still lives in a L’Arche home to this day, says “When I came to L’Arche I exploded like a bomb–I was so happy!”

The first L'Arche house in Trosly

The first L’Arche house in Trosly. From left to right: Henri, Jean-Pierre, Mira, Barbara, Benoit, Lucien and Jean. Photo from

These men were the first to build a L’Arche home, the foundation of the 137 communities that now exist all over the world! In each home, the same spirit of community exists along with the same discover that beauty exists in every person.

Learn more about the founding story of L’Arche – read and subscribe to L’Arche Foundation’s eConnect bulletin.


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