L’Arche Sydney grew from a core group of members who built friendships with people with an intellectual disability and their families. In January 1980, the group began meeting for regular picnic outings. A number of those in the first “picnic group” were people who were living at a large institution in Gladesville, Sydney.
In 1983 the group was offered the use of a large house in Burwood, a suburb about 20 minutes west of the Sydney CBD. Five people with a disability, several from Gladesville, and a number of assistants, lived together under the direction of Father Peter Toohey, who was previously the Catholic chaplain at Gladesville.
When a second house was established at Merrylands, in Sydney’s west, four core members with a disability were able to be accommodated and become part of L’Arche Sydney. When the opportunity arose to open another house in Campsie, close to Burwood, 4 more core members were welcomed, bringing to 11 the number of people with a disability living in the community. Over the years there have sadly been some core members who have passed away and others welcomed bringing our current number of core members to four in Burwood, four in Campsie and three in Merrylands.
L’Arche Sydney, which celebrated it’s 30th anniversary during 2013, has grown to be a vibrant community of friends, supporting and living the life of community together whilst adhering to the charter of L’Arche.