L’Arche St. Louis was founded in 2011. Our board made the decision to purchase and renovate what was formerly the convent at Immaculate Conception in Maplewood, MO, and Pauline, Kim, Justin, Agnes, Damon, and founding Community Leader Janet Ryan began to share life together there.
In 2014, we welcomed Paula Kilcoyne as our second Community Leader. Today, our community is home to 9 adults with disabilities and several assistants who share life with them.
A L’Arche home has a special rhythm and quality. Our care for each other is reflected in the the appearance of the homes, as well as daily life and routines. Core members and assistants share day-to-day activities, including meals, chores, leisure, outings, and celebrations. Weekly, monthly, and annual traditions are the heartbeat of our community.
L’Arche communities have a unique culture and language that reflect our values and mission. People with disabilities who live in our communities are our core members, from the French word coeur, meaning heart, because they are at the center of every L’Arche community. The people who live with the core members and help are known as assistants. Our Executive Director is called the Community Leader. In L’Arche, we recognize our need for one another, regardless of ability.
L’Arche St. Louis is one of 19 communities in L’Arche USA, and part of the international federation of L’Arche. Founded in 1964 in Trosly-Breuil, France, L’Arche has grown to 140 communities in 37 countries around the world. In 2015, L’Arche’s founder, Jean Vanier, was awarded the Templeton Prize.
L’Arche International has been working on a docu-series featuring real stories from communities around the world. See the latest installment below, and visit L’Arche International on YouTube for the entire web series.
“L’Arche encourages people toward mutually transformative relationships, where those who help are transformed by those they encounter. Vanier discovered that those people who society typically considers the weakest enable the strong to recognize and welcome their own vulnerability.” – The Templeton Foundation