L'arche has a new gathering place
It was a grand day for a grand celebration. The late October sun shone down on all the participants milling below as they took pictures of the new building, each other, and selfies: they knew this day was historic. It was the opening of the “Gathering Place”, L’arche Cape Breton’s new state of the art meeting/events venue located in Iron Mines, Inverness County. Unlike so many meetings, this particular gathering was charged with an atmosphere of happiness, sheer joy would not be an exaggeration. Everyone, including core members, assistants, staff, guests, politicians, and builders were all there because they wanted to be, not because they had to be. Musicians played, elected officials orated, awards were handed out, and excellence noted, it was a day of congratulations all around. The celebration lasted nearly two hours, but people did not seem to notice as the time just slipped away in the enthusiasm. The happiness was palpable. What exactly is L’arche? “We are people with and without intellectual disabilities, sharing life in communities belonging to an international federation. Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our journey together. We celebrate the unique value of each person and recognize our need of one another,” reads their identity statement.
Similarly, their mission “is to make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities revealed through mutually transforming relationships.” There’s more but you get the gist - a helping, healing organization catering to the development of those with various needs.
Someone made the remark that this was an impressive building out in the middle of nowhere. That intrigued me. Iron Mines may be a fork in the road, but at L’arche it is all about the core members and their assistants. This to them is somewhere where their individual talents have a chance to grow and blossom and love and encouragement is in abundance.
When I asked Josie Maceachern of L’arche Cape Breton who would be served by this facility, she said there were 8o community members with and without disabilities at the Iron Mines location. As L’arche serves all of Cape Breton, this facility will be used as a multi-purpose place to gather and learn. As Josie put it “we needed a place to gather and meet our core values... here our people can find their own gift.”
The day was a rousing success, complete with a Cape Breton lunch and Parker Donham and son (the Bottom Line) providing music. The crowd mingled over finger food and a cup of tea, seemingly reluctant to leave. And no wonder. It was a job well done, the air was full of happiness, and it was time to celebrate. Even the politicians put aside their professional differences and partook in some good natured kidding of each other. It was Inverness MLA Allan Mcmaster who summed up the whole event best when he said, “L’arche warms our hearts.” It does indeed.