The Challenge of L'Arche by Jean Vanier (Darton, Longman and Todd), £6.95.
JEAN VANIER, an ex-Royal Canadian Navy Officer, founded L'Arche — the Ark — in August 1964, which now has communities for the mentally handicapped in 14 countries.
He also founded and continues to work with the Faith and Light movement, and for younger people, the prayer and sharing group Katimavic (an Eskimo word for "meeting place") which is a dynamic spiritual force among young people today.
All who have an interest in mentally handicapped children, and men and women, would do well to study this authoritative book which is the fruit of first hand experience.
Those who may consider undertaking such work in any area will also find this book inspiring and informative. • Jean Vanier stresses in his Introduction the vital necessity in the care of the mentally handicapped to keep the co-operation of parents and of local people.
There isa great misunderstanding and "switching off" by many people who will, for example, gladly work for lepers, the aged, or the sick, but who are unable to face up to the necessity of helping the mentally
This inspiring book will help to give the world a much greater understanding of and patience with the mentally handicapped.
"The struggle of L'Arche," says Jean Vanier, "is a struggle for liberation, the liberation on the one hand of the handicapped people who arc oppressed by the rejection of society and, on the other, of those who live with them. The process of liberation is a long one and is never fully completed. It implies, as well, the liberation of those living around our communities."
H e"L'Arche obviously cannot do big things. caaddnsO
Our lives are with people. We are called to live little things with little people and to create communities of hope and of reconciliation."
Small is beautiful as far as L'Arche is concerned. The grace of God is very apparent in the growth of these little communities, and this book contains 17 chapters giving witness to the work for the mentally handicapped in 17 centres throughout the world.
This is an important book about an important and growing movement and deserves to be widely read. It should do much to break down the prejudices of our so-called "caring" society which all too often turns its back on the mentally handicapped and their problems. It is a crying out appeal to understand and to help what Jean Vanier calls our "wounded brothers and sisters".
In all, 19 leaders of L'Arche
communities tell their fascinating stories of their places of refuge for the mentally handicapped in these 276 pages.