What is L’Arche

L’Arche was founded in 1964 by Canadian humanitarian and social visionary, Jean Vanier. Distressed by the institutionalisation and the isolation and loneliness of people with intellectual disabilities, Jean Vanier invited two men, Raphael Simi and Phillipe Seux, to live with him in a small house in Trosly-Breuil, a village in France. He named their house “L’Arche”, a French word for ”the ark” in the biblical story of Noah and the flood. By living with Raphael and Phillipe, Jean discovered a new way of living the beatitudes of Jesus.

Word spread and young people from various parts of the world came to the community in Trosly to share their life with people with an intellectual disability. Although not anticipated by Jean, some of these young people were inspired by the vision of L’Arche and founded a L’Arche community in other countries. In 1998 the L’Arche Kapiti community was established in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.

Today, the International Federation of L’Arche consists of over 130 communities in more than 30 countries around the world. Each L’Arche community operates independently, but all are united in their commitment to the L’Arche Statement of Identity and Mission.

About L’Arche Kapiti

L’Arche Kapiti is a faith community rooted in prayer and trust in God. We seek to be guided by God. Each community member is encouraged to discover and deepen his or her spiritual life and live it according to his or her particular faith and tradition.

Our community is made up of about 60 people with and without learning disabilities sharing our lives together.

We are situated in the beautiful Kapiti Coast about 50 km north of Wellington and we are the only L’Arche community in New Zealand.

We celebrate the gifts of each person, whatever their abilities and disabilities. We like to be creative and responsive, finding new ways to give thanks for the gifts of each person. This can be through parties, services and just day to day life.

We provide a strong sense of belonging. We like to be rich in fellowship and companionship, able to organise events (days of reflection, outings) together and in small groups.

L’Arche Kapiti History

Our L’Arche Kapiti story began with a visit from Jean Vanier. Having visited in the 1970’s Jean came again at the invitation of Faith and Light New Zealand, to give a retreat in Christchurch in January of 1993. During the retreat Jean was invited to attend a meeting of about 30 people who wished to ask of him some direction that might help the establishment of a L’Arche Community in New Zealand. He reminded us then that L’Arche does not begin with having a board or a trust or a building or even any amount of money. No, L’Arche begins when there are people who are prepared to share their lives with other people who have intellectual disabilities.

Located North of Wellington in the town of Paraparaumu, our Community began in 1998 in a house. Angela Capes, our founding Community Leader was aided by many, but for spiritual guidance, Father Roderick Milne became our community’s first Pastoral Minister. These founders sowed the seeds that have since sprouted and grown. The community expanded to its present size to include another house and an Activity Centre.

Who we are

We are people with and without disabilities sharing life in a community of faith. Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our life together. We seek to build a world that recognises the unique value of every person and our need for one another.

Our Mission is to:

  • To make known the gifts of people with developmental disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships;
  • To foster community that is inspired by the core values in our founding story and
    responds to the changing needs of our members; and
  • To engage in our diverse cultures, working together toward a more human society.

Get Involved

I was immediately impressed with the warm welcome and accepting atmosphere of the community.

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