THE first Australian to hold the position of L’Arche’s vice-international leader has spoken at a Brisbane event of “the shadow of the gift of human diversity”.
Eileen Glass told those gathered at recent dinner to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of L’Arche’s foundation “this diversity contains the potential to wonderfully enrich human life and experience”.
“However every gift contains a shadow and the shadow of human diversity is that it becomes a point of conflict, of exclusion and even of persecution,” she said.
“Deep within the human heart is the need to prove that ‘my’ group, ‘my culture’, ‘my’ religion or ‘my’ tribe is the best, to the exclusion of others.”
Ms Glass went on to note that the L’Arche communities “link us to the suffering of many in the world”.
“Because of the needs of people with intellectual disabilities, today we stand in solidarity with each other and people in Syria, the Ukraine, Palestine and Egypt.
“Over the years we have worked together in the face of social and political unrest and natural disasters in Haiti, Honduras, the Philippines, Northern Ireland, Poland, the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe.”
L’Arche Brisbane has two houses, one in Morningside and another in Alexandra Hills, where people living with and without intellectual disability share their lives in community.
L¹Arche was founded in 1964 in a small French village by Jean Vanier who welcomed two men, Raphael Simi and Phillipe Seux, both of whom had an intellectual disability and were living nearby in a large institution.
By living with Raphael and Phillipe, he discovered a way of the heart and a new way of living the beatitudes of Jesus.
From these simple beginnings L’Arche has grown into an international federation of 138 communities in over 40 countries.