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Jubilee meetings, like many other

by Liz Yoder

Charles, Edna, Francene, Eva Elizabeth, Yuko and Sarah visit Capitol Hill with L’Arche USA delegation
In May 2014, L’Arche members from around France gathered to celebrate the founding of L’Arche in their country.  One year ago, the Jubilee year, or 50thAnniversary of L’Arche, started in France.  It ended on May 31st 2015, here in Washington, DC where communities around our country gathered at American University to celebrate and reflect on our participation in this world wide community.

Members of L’Arche Greater Washington DC had the honor to host this gathering this year, which included welcoming over 300 members of L’Arche communities around the country to stay on and off campus at American University.

What do L’Arche communities do when they gather?  Sometimes, we say that L’Arche is French for “meetings,”and “meeting” is what we did.  L’Arche leaders from around the country met to talk about leadership and plans for the future, and the rest of the community met each other, some for the first time, and some meetings were reunions of very old friends who live far away.

On Wednesday the 27th  of June, a group from L’Arche Greater Washington DC and others from around the country visited Capitol Hill to meet with Senators and Congress people and their staff. Led by Highland House’s Sarah Clemmer and John Anton, a core member from L’Arche in Haverhill, Massachusettes, the delegates of L’Arche met in the morning to prepare for the conversations they would have with their representatives and to remind themselves that everyone has a story to tell. Former assistant Jen Vigario, who now works at the US Senate office and neighbor and longtime friend to Ontario House, Bill Zaverello, greeted the delegation when they arrived on Capitol Hill.

 Jess Presbylyski, a Community Life Coordinator from Erie reflected later in the week that going with Torsten, a core member from Erie, to visit public servants of Pennsylvania allowed her to enter into conversations that went beyond what we need as communities that support people with disabilities.  The conversation turned personal. Jess and Torsten were able to talk about L’Arche but also learn about the people they were talking to because Torsten asked more about how the staffers were drawn into the work they were doing and what kept them doing the work.  And just as our Eric Arnston would do, Torsten asked them to visit for dinner.

Liz Yoder is L’Arche Greater Washington DC’s Outreach Coordinator.  She spent almost three years as an assistant in 2008-2011, and returned to spread the good news of L’Arche in the development team in 2014. 

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