Veronica Lineham (front centre) presents her rug to Andrea Kelly
Celebrating volunteers' association with L'Arche
The Mount Street Jesuit Centre in central London welcomed four guests from the L'Arche community recently.
Veronica Linehan, Jack Ridgeman and Donna Barclay, who live and work in the L'Arche houses in Lambeth, visited London Jesuit Volunteers (LJV) to meet co-ordinator, Andrea Kelly. They were accompanied by L'Arche Assistant, Dan Nisbitt, who now works there full-time, after being introduced to the initiative through LJV.
During their visit, Veronica presented the Centre with a woven rug depicting the MSJC logo, using bright gold, mustard, burgundy and white wools. It had taken her six months to complete and now hangs in the team room in Mount Street.
'I've been at L'Arche for nearly 11 years,' Veronica beams, 'and I do weaving every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I started by making things like cats and hearts, then I moved on to stoles and Bible covers.'
Veronica recently attended the 30th anniversary celebrations for L'Arche at Lambeth Palace, where she met L'Arche's founder, Jean Vanier, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. She now has her own flat, meaning that she can enjoy more independence; she is a voluntary administrative assistant at the Mencap offices; and she also plays a full and active role in drama productions.
'I played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz,' she says modestly, 'but Donna and Jack both took part in a play called Seasons of the Spirit, in which Jack played Jesus!'
Andrea Kelly believes that the association between L'Arche and London Jesuit Volunteers is very important. 'It's such a special place,' she says. 'Very warm, very welcoming and - in many ways - quite unique. The big occasions like Easter and Christmas are great times of sharing and celebration; but nightly supper too - especially on Fridays when our volunteers join the residents - is also a great time of community and fellowship.'
L'Arche describes itself as 'a family' of 130 Communities worldwide in which people with learning disabilities and their Assistants live and work together. They are based on Christian principles, welcoming people of all faiths and none in 30 countries around the world. There are nine L'Arche Communities in the UK, with two more planned.
'We have some 35 residents in our five houses in Lambeth,' Dan Nisbett explains. 'Community prayers and having a Chaplain as part of our Community are very important elements of L'Arche. And we also go on regular retreats - different groups walking or taking a bus to Edenbridge, where we are welcomed by the Sisters of St Andrew, or to Canterbury.'
To find out more about London Jesuit Volunteers, visit the Mount Street Jesuit Centre web site: www.msjc.org.uk
For more about L'Arche Communities in the UK, see www.larche.org.uk
Mount Street Jesuit Centre