Friday, January 19, 2018

Our 1st Community Gathering for 2018

You are invited to join us at our first gathering for 2018 0n Sunday 28th January at the Roma Street Parklands.

We will meet at the Forest Meadow grassed area. You will find us between the Lakeside Meadow and the Rainforest. Look for the L'Arche Banner and lots of happy people close to this lovely fountain!!!A map of the parkland  is here.

This is a gathering that commences at 4pm and if people would like to bring something to BBQ or to picnic that would be appreciated.We look forward to meeting new and old friends as we begin another year of building community among people living with and without intellectual disability.

We will bring some activities for people to enjoy on the grassy areas.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Hugh McGowan RIP

The Requiem Mass for Hugh McGowan will be on Wednesday 6th December commencing at 10.30am at St. Oliver Plunkett Catholic Church, Beauvardia Street Cannon Hill. 

This will be followed by refreshments in the church hall. The Interment Service will be held at 1.15pm at the Mt. Gravatt Lawn Cemetery.

There have been some lovely messages of condolence coming in from past Assistants and Friend, people who were touched by Hugh, his concern for others, his humour, his dedication and the love for his family.

Let us continue to go forward gently and remember each other in our loss of a dear friend.
Many Blessings,

Michael Hutchinson
Community Leader

Advent 2017

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L’Arche Brisbane                                                                    Advent 2017             

Now is the time of year when we begin a time of waiting and preparing for Christmas.   
In the Christian Church, this time of waiting and preparation for Christmas is called Advent.
Advent means "coming". We wait for God's coming in the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day.

It is a time to journey with ourselves, within our hearts.
It is a time to journey with other people in our community
It is a time to journey with other people from around our world.

Much of the time, when we wait, it is open ended. We wait for justice. We wait for healing. We wait for situations to change.
This season of waiting and anticipation is one in which longings of the heart come sharply into focus.

The hardest thing about waiting is not knowing when it will end, and if it is going to end. Waiting brings questions without easy answers.

The waiting and anticipation that comes with Advent is enjoyable because it is finite. We know that what is coming at the end of our wait will be good, and we know exactly how many days we have left to wait. However this time of waiting can be extended into an undefined waiting time, when we can pray for expressions of God’s Kingdom, such as hope, love, joy and peace to come us and others close by and far away.

How can we wait well?
    Prepare for what you are waiting for.
  • Sharing the waiting time with others.
  • Searching for meaning in that waiting time and space.
  • Finding an activity or item that brings joy, such as, art, music, walking, nature, visiting a special place
  • Do something for someone else. Think of others.

Prayer in the houses
  • Over 4 nights each week, we will use a bare branch to help us wait,
      as a symbol of anticipation, along with an Advent Wreath and 4 candles
  • Each week has a theme and a symbol to represent the theme
  • Each week we will light the candle(s), add to the branch, and pray,
     share a story and listen to a song
    • Week 1, one candle: the candle of HOPE
    • Week 2 ,two candles: Hope and LOVE
    • Week 3, three candles: Hope, Love and JOY
    • Week 4, four candles: Hope, Love, Joy and PEACE
  • As we approach Christmas the tree will come to life as the tree is ‘dressed’
     with symbols

Sharing with others
  • On the weekend bake a slice or cookies to give to our Capuchin friends for their Wednesday evening Mission
  • Each week save a little cash towards a donation to Hassan’s Mission in Sierra Leone. We will collect this at our Christmas Celebration.

Weekly Routine
This advent we will be praying together during our waiting time. We will be preparing for our Christmas celebration.
The bare branch reminds us that it is a time of waiting and anticipation.
Each week we will base our prayer around a symbol, and we will light a candle(s) that represents the 4 weeks of waiting.
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Week 1 - Hope             Week 2 - Love                Week 3 -Joy                      Week 4 – Peace

On 3 nights we will
  • light the candle(s),
  • listen to Come Lord Jesus Come by John Coleman,
  • reflect on the theme, write on symbols
  • pray,
  • hang a symbol(s) on the branch
On the fourth night
  • Light the candle(s)
  • we will read a story based on the theme
  • pray.

Theme, Symbol
Night 1        
Week 1  Everyone writes on a symbol, something they hope for themselves or someone significant
Week 2 Someone they love
Week 3 Ask for joy in some aspect of their life or for someone significant
Week 4 Pray for peace in some aspect of their life or for someone significant
Night 2          
On one symbol the household prays for one another with the symbol in mind, and writes those things on the symbol
Night 3
On one symbol the household prays for the wider community and the world and writes those things on the symbol
Night 4
A story is shared that represents the symbol

Come Lord Jesus come
Enter in our world
God among us now
Come Lord Jesus come

Come now Prince of Peace
Peace within our world
Peace within our homes
Come now Prince of Peace

Joy to all the world
Tiny seeds of love
Guiding star above
Come lord Jesus come

Come Lord Jesus come
Enter in our world
God among us now
Come lord Jesus come
John Coleman
Turning Point of Time

The stillness of anticipation cradles tiny Bethlehem,
silent now in preparation for the miracle of birth.
All creation, hushed, expectant, waits a baby's cry:
born in all simplicity at the turning point of time.

Be silent, earth, before the mystery of the long-awaited birth.
All the hopes of human history - longings, yearnings, dreams, desires -
gathered in a single moment, focussed in a child:
born in all simplicity at the turning point of time.

A nascent star, in celebration, blazes over Bethlehem;
crucible of all creation, where the human and divine
are refined in simple beauty in a new-born child:
born in all simplicity at the turning point of time.

Words Neil Quintrell © Pilgrim Publishing
Music: © Douglas Simper

Monday, October 23, 2017

L'Arche Brisbane Newsletter Spring 2017

The Spring edition of our newsletter is now online here

Contents: A Call to L'Arche Pg 3
Assistant News Pg 8/9
Birthday List Pg 10
Community Weekend Pg 1/2
Desert Mornings Pg 5
From the Houses Pg 6/7
Leader's Thoughts Pg 5
Nouwen Reflection Pg 8
Office info Pg 10
Vanier Thought Pg 5
Wedding News Pg 4

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Eileen Glass Presentation at L'Arche Brisbane Dinner May 2017

Eileen with Jason May 2017
It is a pleasure for me to here with my Brisbane L’Arche friends!

I have been invited to share something about L’Arche International and I want to begin with the first sentence of the Identity Statement of L’Arche International, We are people with and without disabilities sharing life in communities belonging to an International Federation.

Tonight, as I am coming to the end of five years in the role of Vice International Leader of L’Arche, I would like to share with you something of my own journey in L’Arche over more than forty years, and of my understanding of the importance of our communities being part of an International Federation.

I discovered L’Arche in the original community in France in February 1974 after an overland journey from Nepal. As a young person at that time I was caught up in the movement for social and political change that had erupted across the western world during the latter years of the 1960’s. Finding a community where people with disabilities and their assistants shared life, and so gave radical expression to the value and importance of every person, was a significant challenge to me in face of my personal search for a meaningful way of living. I spent six weeks in L’Arche Trosly, struggling to speak French, to understand something of the nature of intellectual disability and to try out communal living. Needless to say, it was a turning point in my life!

I continued on my travels and by June ’74 I had arrived in the community of L’Arche Winnipeg in Canada, where it was a relief to be fluent in at least one of the languages spoken in the community! All but one of the eight women and men welcomed in the community had lived for many years in a large institution in rural Manitoba. As I got to know them, my eyes were opened to the cry for real friendship in the hearts of these people, a need often greater than their need for accommodation, education or work. I also discovered the profound capacity for compassion, forgiveness and true friendship in their hearts, whatever their real or perceived limitations. This in turn made me aware of the injustice experienced by vulnerable people in our societies when they are relegated to the margins, whether through stereotyping, enforced congregate living, lack of appropriate education and training, all of which result in systemic social isolation and deprivation.

Given my beginnings in L’Arche in France and Canada, I could say that I was formed from the beginning in an international context. While I quickly adapted to community life, the deeper attraction of life in L’Arche for me was that it offered a way of living that encompassed internationality and religious diversity, and so gave me a concrete way to engage with the big questions of the world. While the first community had been founded in France by Jean Vanier, who is Roman Catholic, the first foundation in Canada was with an Anglican couple, and the foundation in India, with Christians, Hindus and Moslems, had an all Hindu Board of Directors. So the realities of interdenominational and interreligious community life were established in L’Arche within the first six years of the original foundation.

In the 1970’s the community in Ottawa was established in a large building, divided into two homes, one English speaking and the other French speaking, with a common front entrance! In Mobile Alabama, the Board had to work through several neighbourhoods before they found one where a household with black and white people would be able to live under the one roof. Through such foundations L’Arche was inserting itself into the social and political realities of the cultures in which it was taking root. Part of the contribution of vulnerable people to society is that they have a way of drawing us to the fault lines in the political and social fabric and many L’Arche communities have grown from that earth.

When I returned to Australia in 1976 and began working with people for the establishment of L’Arche in this country we were involved in a process of inculturation. What would L’Arche in this country look like if it was both authentically Australian and authentically L’Arche? Our cultural and regulatory landscape is not that of France or Canada and from the early days we looked somewhat different to L’Arche in most other countries. Our homes have always been smaller for example. We opted for typical homes in neighbourhoods as opposed to large semi institutional dwellings. When I was community leader in Canberra in the mid 1980’s I was told by a government official that they were watching our development with interest as we were the first service provider to neither purpose build, nor opt for what was described as a ‘welfare neighbourhood’. When the national legislation was overhauled in the 1980’s despite being a very small organisation, L’Arche Australia was consulted on how the legislation might be shaped so that an organisation such as ours would not be negatively affected. In this country we have had to find our own expression of the spirituality of L’Arche as we developed in a context of religious plurality in an increasingly post Christian culture. If we are to remain significant today I think we need to keep before us the question of how L’Arche in Australia poses questions and offers insights to the dominant culture about the place and the contribution of people who live with the experience of disability.

In the early 1980’s as communities were opened on the south coast of NSW and in Sydney, Australia became a Region in L’Arche International and I was the Coordinator representing Australia to the International Council. These years brought a widening of my experience of L’Arche in the world as we met in different countries and grappled with questions of growth and sustainability on an International level. Perhaps the most confronting experience of those years for me was to be in Haiti during the visit of Pope John Paul II. The power and control of structural injustice has never been more real to me.

From 1993 – 2001 I was the Coordinator for the Zone AWP. This grouping of communities in India, Japan, the Philippines and NZ offered and rich and diverse experience of often challenging realities of economic, social and historical significance. At the same time, it opened possibilities for L’Arche to truly live it’s mission to be a sign of hope in the world. I was very touched, for example by the community in Manila which was founded on the welcome of children who had been abandoned. From the beginning, there was a Japanese woman who was part of the team of assistants. When she was proposed as the second community leader I witnessed the struggle of the Board members, every one of whom had lost family members during the Japanese occupation in WWII. Their ability to not allow that painful experience to stand in the way of Keiko’s leadership, and her choice to give 20 years of her life to L’Arche in the Philippines became one of the most profound journeys of healing and reconciliation that I have witnessed.

Since June 2012 I have been the Vice International Leader of L’Arche, living in a L’Arche home in France for six months of the year. The joy and the challenge of this role has been to work to grow a deeper unity amongst the diversity of an increasingly complex family of communities. As in those early years, the communities continue to encompass the big questions of our world: in Damascus as the civil war continues, in Bethlehem as the Israeli settlements are expanded, in the Ivory Coast where the community had to relocate and is now trying to rebuild after civil war, in Ukraine in an unstable political situation, in Lithuania where the fear of Soviet invasion is ever present, in the changing political landscape in the US, in Haiti as we work to rebuild two communities, firstly after the earthquake and more recently following the typhoon, in France and Belgium where the possibility of terrorist attacks is ever present.

In and through all these realities we discover the beauty and fragility of being an international family and the importance of the international dimension of our Identity as an organisation. Over the past year and a half, we have released a series of short films entitled #As I Am, portraying stories of people who live with the experience of intellectual disabilities in different parts of the world. The voices of these people cause us to stop and reflect, to laugh and cry, to marvel at the resilience of people who have known exclusion, abandonment, and oppression, and to rejoice with them as they have found a place of life and of flourishing in L’Arche.

For all the challenges, questions and limitations which our communities face, they remain a sign of hope for our world as they live their mission to make known the gifts of people with an intellectual disability. Where communities are intentionally engaged in outreach to the societies in which they exist, they point to the possibility of human cooperation and flourishing when vulnerable people are accorded a place of belonging at the heart of the human family. It is in that spirit that L’Arche International has developed a partnership with an organisation in China which is providing homes and work to over 1,000 people with disabilities. Through such partnerships, we hope to spread the spirit and vision of L’Arche beyond the confines of our exiting communities and to positively influence the lives of people with disabilities for whom we cannot provide direct support. To translate that to the local level, there is the challenge to all of us to be communities of engagement and of witness in our neighbourhoods, our churches and our local communities, and in doing so to recognise that in our DNA as an organisation we carry a rich dimension of internationality.

Thank you!