Community life


We are a community because we believe that we all – people with learning disabilities, assistants and Community friends – have need of one another.

We all have something to give and to receive. Often this involves doing small, simple, day-to-day things: going for walks, having a cup of tea, preparing a meal or just spending time together.

People with learning disabilities who live in the L’Arche community help take decisions through house meetings and a monthly members’ meeting.

We organise days of reflection, parties, games, prayers, retreats, pilgrimages and monthly gatherings. We always enjoy celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.

We value our relationships with neighbours, local parishes, families and friends. Weekend activities include shopping, walking and other outings. Holiday groups travel throughout the UK and Europe, often staying in other L’Arche Communities.

What Does a L’Arche year Look Like?

January

Action Plans are drawn up around the Community for each area, providing a focus for the year ahead – it might be new experiences, decoration, holidays, or better ways of working and being together. A popular theme in recent years has been maintaining ‘screen-free’ evenings…!


February

The season of Lent begins with another Day of Reflection, looking towards Easter. February is also our Community Birthday: always a colourful and fun time of celebrating our shared story!


March

Our Retreat in Daily Life invites people with and without disabilities to meet with a prayer guide each day for a week in their normal, daily live, helping to reflect on how we experience our life in the Community, and how much time do we allow for God to speak to us in all of the busyness!


April

The annual Assistants’ Weekend is held, where the assistant body go away to spend time getting to know one another at a deeper level. In recent years we have stayed on the Isle of Wight and at an activities centre in Pulburough. The main aim is always to look at how we live Community together.


May

May brings better weather and bank holidays… one of which we use to begin our annual Community Pilgrimage. This lasts a week and sees the whole Community venturing out into the West Sussex countryside, the South Downs and villages around, to relax, to meet one another, to eat, pray and play. The is a long-standing tradition of L’Arche in Bognor Regis: as some of our members age, activities are now provided for those who cannot walk too far, but the whole Community comes together to eat and share our experiences in the week. We are often joined by members of other L’Arche communities, friends and ex-assistants.


June

Some of our first year assistants go on a walking retreat in the Alps with members of other European L’Arche Communities.


July

The plants and vegetables are in full bloom, for use in the Community. we have our Friends and Family Day, showcasing the many gifts and talent in the Community through activities and the sharing of our news since the previous summer.


August

Many people from our Community go on holidays – some go in small groups to other L’Arche communities in the UK and around Europe, whilst other people have 1:1 holidays. August is also the Greenbelt Music and Arts festival, where a dedicated band of campers have been having much fun for about the past 10 years. Some years we have been involved in putting on liturgies which announce what L’Arche is about.


September

Is usually the month where a new group of assistants arrive and settle into their new roles in the houses and communities. It is always a time of change, with new energy and relationships, and a time of challenge where new people get to grips with the lifestyle, rhythm and traditions in our Community.


October

A quiet month. New assistants start their training and induction programme. Many members of the day services participate in a local initiative for people with learning disabilities, the ‘It’s A Knockout!’ competition, with games and plenty of noise and excitement: fun is had by all!


November

Advent begins, with the Advent Day of Reflection: a special time of waiting and gratitude for all that we have. We also choose our ‘Advent Friends’ and begin to consider what we will secretly give them as Christmas draws nearer… 


December

Our Christmas Cabaret! Many people from within the Community perform a play, sing songs, decorate the Sycamore and entertain our friends and family.


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