by KILIAN DE LACY
PARAPARAUMU — Stepping into a L’Arche community is a special experience.
There is a warmth, a simplicity and a kinship that attract the visitor. The spirit of the movement’s founder, Jean Vanier, who
maintained that those who live and work among people
with intellectual disabilities have their hearts changed,
was evident.
On Saturday February 15, the L’Arche Kapiti community celebrated its own 16th birthday, the golden jubilee of L’Arche International, and the 25th anniversary of the movement in
New Zealand.
The day began with a visit to each of the community houses and the national office, where guests were welcomed and a short
prayer was offered by community members.
The festivities at the Coast Community Church opened with a formal welcome by the president,Dave Diggins, and a haka
by two members of the community. There followed a welcome to groups from Auckland, Christchurch and Tasmania, where parallel
communities, imbued with the same ethic and spirit,
have been established.
Special guests were the Sisters of Compassion, who were
instrumental in establishing the community in Kapiti.
Several of the community members had been residents at the Carterton Home before it was closed down.
More than 100 people sat down to lunch amid chatter and laughter. The afternoon was spent in photo shoots, prayer, information sessions and entertainment.
An indication of the effect of the L’Arche community came from one guest who said that the whole parish had been affected
to the extent that visitors remark on the warmth and
hospitality evident among parishioners.

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