House of Welcome
After much anticipation the L’Arche House of Welcome at 8 Grandview Crescent is open in Bendigo.
L’Arche (French for ‘The Ark’ – a place of refuge) was founded by Jean Vanier in 1964 when he invited three men with intellectual disability at a local institution, to come and live with him in a spirit of friendship and equality.
Today there are more than 140 communities worldwide. In Australia there are five established communities and a further four developing communities including our Bendigo community.
A L’Arche Community is a faith based community built on the establishment of mutual relationships between people with and without an intellectual disability. It extends from providing friendship networks, to supporting people to live in their own home, and community living where people with and without an intellectual disability come together to live in a L’Arche house – in a place they call home. Community members are encouraged to achieve their social, independence, living, spiritual and relational aspirations.
In December 1999 Maureen Considine and Bernadette Ransom, both mothers of children with an intellectual disability, began a journey to establish a L’Arche community in Bendigo. As parents they understood the need to create community and provide a social network in a caring environment for their children as they moved into adulthood.
L’Arche Melbourne was in formation at that time and they attended L’Arche Melbourne Gathering days, information sessions and a retreat given by Jean Vanier in Sydney in 2004.
Maureen’s untimely death in 2006 led to the establishment of the Maureen Considine Fund in pursuit of the dream.
Through Philomena Billington, a seed was sown to link the dreams of the Bendigo community with the L’Arche Melbourne community. In September 2014 a memorandum of understanding between the Diocese of Sandhurst Disability Coordinating Group which was established by the late Bishop Joseph Grech and L’Arche Melbourne saw the L’Arche Melbourne – Bendigo community welcomed as part of L’Arche Melbourne alongside their Bayside community.
Much excitement and anticipation has been experienced over the last six months as the foundations of the Bendigo community have been laid.
The excitement not only lies in the emerging Bendigo Community but also extends into the Bayside Community with the anticipation of new friendships being forged.
Michele Brett has been appointed as Community Co-Ordinator and will work with members to establish a rhythm of life for the community. With the support of L’Arche Melbourne, her focus will be in developing friendship networks for people with intellectual disabilities and their families, recruiting volunteers, organizing gatherings and gaining an understanding of the individual support needs of people with intellectual disability and their families and the development of personal plans.
We have been very fortunate to have the support of the Maureen Considine Fund over the establishment period. The Fund has made a significant contribution to the cost of capital works and furnishings at our House of Welcome at 8 Grandview Crescent.
At the heart of L’Arche is the philosophy of building relationships, encouraging people with and without intellectual disability to share time together, thus revealing and valuing the giftedness of each of us.
The generosity of donors and fundraising activities has been essential for the establishment of the Bendigo L’Arche community and will continue to be required to meet ongoing costs. The Maureen Considine Fund Committee is very grateful for the generous support of many people over the past years. We hope this support will continue in the future.