A Founder's Reflection
L'Arche exists across 5 continents, in 38 countries, reflecting a diverse family of members in lively, inclusive communities. "There is never a dull day!" says Jan Guillory.
And Jan should know - she founded the L'Arche Mobile community in Alabama in 1974!
Jan is now a beloved member of our team at L'Arche Frederick. Forty seven years later, she reflects on the impact of L'Arche and the experience of founding a L'Arche community in a time when many people with disabilities were leaving large institutions in favor of small, community homes.
"So many people in the wider community helped us. We worked things out together, gradually forming relationships with the core members, learning their strengths and weaknesses, often being blessed and gentled by their deep desire to live there.
The gift of the community of L’Arche to the city of Mobile was essentially the gift of the core members, their radiance... It became a radiance of peace, laughter, acceptance of each person just as they were. In a society riven by financial, class and racial divisions, L’Arche became a quiet unifying force, the influe
nce of which gradually rippled out to the poorest and the richest parts of the city...
After 47 years, L’Arche Mobile is known and loved, now with 4 homes and a well-established day center, an active Board, an annual First Light marathon which is known nationally by marathon lovers. Despite the many flaws and faults of those of us who pulled L’Arche together over the years, this radiance shines through making L’Arche indeed “a refuge for the poor in spirit”, a phrase from the original L’Arche prayer."
Jan has given abundantly to L'Arche in her lifetime, truly living out the mission with compassion and generosity. We are so fortunate for her gifts as our community in Frederick grows!