About L'Arche Bognor RegisWe are a Christian Community of about 50 - 60 people with and without learning disabilities sharing our lives together.
We CELEBRATE the gifts of each person, whatever their abilities and disabilities. We like to be creative and responsive, finding new ways to give thanks for the gifts of each person. This can be through parties, services and just day to day life. Our new Community Room (2008) helps us to celebrate together more easily. Our new Supported Living House, Fieldway, opened in 2010, provides a different style of living for people who are more independent.
As a medium sized community, we provide a strong sense of BELONGING. Neither too big nor too small we hope to be rich in fellowship and companionship, able to organise events (pilgrimages, days of reflection, outings) together and in small groups.
We offer OPPORTUNITIES for personal growth and development through the daily tasks (and joys) of living together, training (including the possibility to obtain professional qualifications), mentoring and days of reflection. Members can choose to go on retreats, usually with members of other L’Arche Communities. We also support members to gain experience in L’Arche Communities overseas.
Life in L’Arche Bognor Regis can also be CHALLENGING. Work can be hard, and getting on with others is not always easy. We encourage people to develop their skills and experience in new areas, using their initiative to dream up new activities and ways of doing things, and to take on responsibilities as they are able.
A Psalm on 30 years of L’Arche in Bognor Regis
(Loosely based on Psalm 105)
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
Make known among the nations what he has done.
Remember Joan Bartlett of Servite Housing Association,
Who felt called to establish a L’Arche Community on the site of an old Servite monastery.
Give thanks to Sister Marcella Roe, who was the first leader of the Community, opening it in February 1978.
She called six people with learning disabilities to come to share their lives with her.
Most came from big institutions where they had been for life, coming for the first time in their lives to live in a normal house in a normal street.
The house was called Zacchaeus because he had invited Jesus for supper.
Marcella also called five assistants to support her. They mostly had jobs in and around Bognor, sharing their earnings to keep the Community going
With funding from Social Services they were able to start a second house, Emmaus, and a craft workshop in 1980. 1982 saw the establishment of Bethany house.
A further house, Jericho, and a horticultural project were established in 1987.
Many of the residents work in the L’Arche workshop and garden; they also go to the local College, Wrenford Centre and Apuldram.
Others help at Oxfam, a garden centre and the cat and rabbit sanctuary.
Most are members of local Churches, with whom the Community enjoys close relationships.
Sometimes the assistants were few in number, but God always provided. The Community has been a place of life for many people, including both people with learning disabilities and assistants. Others have moved on, blessed by their time in the Community, discovering more about themselves and their potential.
We give thanks for Fieldway, a new Supported Living House opened in 2010 for people who are more independent. We are also refurbishing Zacchaeus, our original house to make it more accessible for people with limited mobility. We also give thanks for our links with Churches, Schools, Colleges and Universities and everyone God sends to us.
Praise the Lord!