In the fall of 2022, my wife, Myra, and I had the privilege to live in Scotland and England over a two and half month period of time. During our time there Myra and I visited two L’Arche communities: Friends of Highland L’Arche in Inverness Scotland and L’Arche Manchester in Manchester England. Both the core members and staff in the community, Friends of Highland L’Arche, were extremely welcoming, engaging and informative about their community. We visited several workshops in their day program which supported both core members and adults with disabilities from outside of the residences. During this visit in the day program, we had the chance to speak with three core members, Roy, Emma and Kim. They spoke highly of their friends there in L’Arche, and of their opportunities to get involved in many community activities. Emma said, “I love L’Arche and if any one from Frederick wants to know about L’Arche I will talk to them because I know everything about L’Arche.” My wife and I felt such a loving presence while visiting with all the folks in the day program.
After our visit in the day program, Helen Peattie, Community Outreach Coordinator, took us to three of the five homes in the Inverness community. The first L’Arche home visit, established almost 50 years ago, is called Braerannoch House, the original name of the home when it was first donated to L’Arche. This home is a large majestic estate house, renovated inside with many bedrooms and huge living and
dinning areas. More importantly, we were always greeted warmly and welcomed into the house by staff and core members. I was particularly impressed by the patient and caring manner in which staff interacted
with the core members. We were served a great lunch at another home called Mactalla where we met a few more core members and our visit ended with a tour of a third home called Rosie Lovat, a brand new
modern structured house on the grounds of Braerannoch. At Rosie Lovat we met several of the one year volunteers, referred to as “Live Ins”, who leave their university training for one year to train in and live
in L’Arche communities supporting the core members. We met folks from all over Europe including two from Korea.
Several weeks after our visit to Highland L’Arche, we went south into England to visit my wife’s family just outside of Manchester. We had made arrangements to visit L’Arche Manchester where we met with Nem Thomlinson, their Community Leader. Nem explained that their community was recently a founding community in the planning stages for ten years (like L’Arche Frederick). Now, after ten years of being
open, they have four homes and a business referred to as L’Bee Team Room, a tea café and bakery all supported by the core members. After our meeting with Nem she invited us to a weekly community gathering of all staff and core members from the four homes. We had a delightful visit with several of the core members and neighbors and other community members who support L’Arche Manchester. One core
member in particular impacted me. After telling him we had visited two L’Arche communities in the UK he pulled out a piece of paper and pen and wrote on the paper the name of every (all eleven) city in the
UK where a L’Arche community has been established. He did this without me asking or prompting him, just because of knowing I was interested in L’Arche in the UK. What a kind gesture!
It goes without saying I and my wife, experienced all the values of L’Arche that we are experiencing here in Frederick, but even more so as those relationships in the UK have many more years of history. Our
visits in the UK gave me a window to the future of L’Arche Frederick which is VERY exciting!