L'arche has a new gath­er­ing place

The Victoria Standard - - Community - CHUCK THOMP­SON

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.

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