L'Arche first began in France, in August 1964, when Canadian Jean Vanier, son of the former Governor-General Georges Vanier, invited three men with intellectual disabilities to leave the institution where they were living and to share daily life together in a simple house in the village of Trosly.
“Raphael, Philippe and I started very simply to live together. We cooked together, ate together, did the shopping together, and worked together in the garden”. (Jean Vanier, Interview Charles Eric Hauguel, 1989)
“The idea of living together was there from day one, the idea of living happily together, of celebrating and laughing a lot, came very quickly and spontaneously.” (Kathryn Spink, The Miracle, the Message, the Story).
Word of this project spread quickly, volunteers came willing to share in community life, and within a few years, L’Arche had spread from this little French village to Ivory Coast, India, Canada, and beyond…
L’Arche Saint John Timeline
- May 1994 – Monthly Gatherings began as a social and prayer time shared by people with intellectual disabilities, their parents, caregivers, and friends – held first in members’ homes and then at Stone Church.
- 1994 – the group obtained incorporation and charitable status as New Dawn Community Inc.; monthly board business meetings and fellowship meetings began, in addition to the Monthly Gathering.
- May 1997 – New Dawn members attended a Jean Vanier conference in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, and invited Jean Vanier to Saint John
- 1999 – Ed and Eke van Oorschot donated their chapel, “Our Lady of the Woods,” and its property to the New Dawn Community
- Dec. 23, 1999 – New Dawn Community was officially named a Project of L’Arche
- June 2001 – Jean Vanier event took place at the Trade & Convention Centre in Saint John
- Nov. 2003 – Assumption Parish donated their old rectory for the community’s first house; New Dawn Community gave it the name McKim House in memory of George and Charlotte McKim
- Dec. 2004 – Dan Kirkegaard was named as the founding Community Leader
- April 2005 – Marilyn Moore arrived as founding Assistant
- June 7, 2005 – McKim House opened, welcoming John Pike as founding Core Member
- Dec. 2006 – L’Arche International Board approved a recommendation to recognize L’Arche Saint John as a Probationary Member of the federation
- October 2008 – L’Arche Saint John was welcomed as a Probationary Community before the International General Assembly in Kolkata, India
- April 2016 - L'Arche Saint John's application to become a Confirmed Community has been officially accepted by L'Arche International!
- Sept. 2016 - L'Arche Saint John launches Creative Connections, our collaborative arts location, on Prince William St. in Uptown Saint John.
- June 2017 – L’Arche Saint John was welcomed as a Confirmed Community before the Federation Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland.