Tuesdays are for introducing the members of the L’Arche Greater Vancouver Community to our readers. You’ll learn a little bit of their story and their experiences in L’Arche.
Today we introduce Lizzy, who came to L’Arche Greater Vancouver in 2000 to work as an assistant in one of our houses. Today she is the Coordinator of Community Life where she organizes a host of activities and people. Earlier this year she was fortunate to travel to the founding L’Arche community in Trosly, France to participate in a mini-renewal retreat. Her highlight was being able to learn from Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche communities. Here is her story:
I was very honoured when Denise approached me and asked if I would like to go to Trosly for a retreat. After a week of thought and reflection, I accepted, and started to ponder the upcoming experience.
As I was 1 of only 2 people traveling from Canada, (the other Assistant was from Edmonton, and I hadn’t met her yet) I traveled from Vancouver to Paris by myself. As this was my first trip ever to Europe, and being by myself, I had the anxiety of not knowing what was going to happen at the other end in Paris. I knew arrangements had been made, and it was only when I was met at the airport by Garry, did the anxieties go away. We drove for about 1.5 hours to the town of Trosly, where I was to stay in one of the L’Arche homes, Le Rameux.
On Sunday, the other participants started to arrive for the retreat. In total, we were 14; 2 from India, 2 from Canada (including myself), 2 from Honduras, 2 from the US, 2 from Australia, 1 from Germany, 1 from Bangladesh, 1 from the Philippines, and 1 from Mexico. Each individual had an experience in L’Arche, which I would later learn.
The retreat was 4 weeks in length, and was broken down into 4 parts;
In our first week we focused on the History of L’Arche. We learned how the community was created, the processes involved and the struggles that occurred along the journey.
The second week was called “Living the L’Arche Experience” and each of the participants spent the week living and working in one of the homes, experiencing the day to day life and activities of their individual home and the day program
Our third week we were privileged to go into sessions with Jean Vanier where he taught on the gospel of St. John, and how it related to the L’Arche community.
During the 4th and final week, we reflected, through prayer and discussion, our experiences in Trosly, as well as sharing life in our individual communities, including their mission and identity.
My time in Trosly has left me with many fond memories, but the one that is strongest is the final dinner at the completion of the 3rd week. This dinner was set up in such a way, that it brought more relevance to the discussions that Jean conducted on the teachings from the Gospel of St John.
The retreat gave me a better understanding of L’Arche and how God plays a big role in involving everyone in the community, and how HE brings out the generosity of each individual. I also learned how L’Arche enriches my life by being able to meet other assistants from around the world who share the same inspiration.