“The Journey of Wavecrest:
Becoming an Official Project of L’Arche USA”
By Karen Carr,
Founding Community Leader, Wavecrest, Project of L’Arche
It is with a sincere sense of gratitude that the Wavecrest community celebrates becoming an official project of L’Arche USA! Our journey to this exciting point has been long, and often arduous; we have been stretched and challenged along the way; but, oh, how grateful we are for all this journey has been! This incredible adventure began nine years ago. In the early 1980’s, a group of people began to pray for a L’Arche community in Orange County. I went to live in a L’Arche community in Compiegne, France from 1987-1992. I returned from France with the vision and dream to found a L’Arche community in Orange County, California. During the next five years, many of the original prayer group, including myself, gave L’Arche presentations to churches, organizations, and anyone who would listen! A L’Arche planning team was formed in 1997, and from that team we formed our founding Board of Directors for Wavecrest. In June of 1999, Wavecrest received it’s non-profit status and in January of 1999, Wavecrest became an official pre-project of L’Arche U.S.A. Then in May 2001, the US Zone Council and Board of Directors approved Wavecrest-Friends of L’Arche to become a “project” of L’Arche USA. We have been celebrating ever since! This is an exciting time for us as we see our vision coming closer to becoming a reality.
This past May, Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, came to Orange County to give a young adult retreat at Concordia University in Irvine. It was a thrilling time for the entire Wavecrest community! We found out right before the retreat that we had become an official project of L’Arche USA, so that made the time with Jean even more precious. About two hundred people attended the retreat, including fifty assistants and core members from L’Arche communities all over the United States. The retreat offered a unique opportunity for Wavecrest to bond with the other L’Arche communities. Highlights of the retreat were two daily talks by Jean, sharing groups, a Catholic mass presided over by Bishop Todd Brown, an Episcopal mass presided over by Bishop Borsch, a Protestant service led by Jane Simmons, workshops, a wonderful fiesta, and much more.
During the retreat the Wavecrest Board of Directors hosted an ecumenical luncheon for people in the area and for clergy. About 180 people attended the luncheon during which Jean shared a powerful message of love. A public talk was held the Friday night of the retreat during which Jean had the opportunity to share with about 900 people. These two events were very important to Wavecrest from a public relations standpoint and both events provided excellent opportunities for networking.
We continue to network by having quarterly gatherings at Emmanuel Episcopal Church for anyone who wants to be involved with Wavecrest including persons with disabilities, their families and friends. The gatherings help us to begin building strong community ties as we work towards opening our first house. The gatherings include a potluck, time of worship and prayer, and a presentation given by someone in L’Arche. Wavecrest is marvelously blessed through ecumenism with Board members and other community members from Protestant, Episcopal, and Catholic churches.
I am so thankful for all the people who are involved in Wavecrest including our Board of Directors, potential core members, family, friends and many more. I also give thanks to all of you for your support and prayers for the progress of Wavecrest. We continue to need your prayers and encouragement as we move closer to opening our first home in the fall of 2002. This next year we will be doing major fundraising, working with Regional Center, selecting our first core members and assistants, and finding our first home.
I realize more than ever now how L’Arche is a sign of hope in a society that is so desperately crying for community, belonging, togetherness and love. Wavecrest receives several calls each week from parents, people with disabilities, and friends who are longing for family and a sense of belonging. Wavecrest is indeed called to be a beacon of light in the community of Orange County, especially for those who so deeply long to experience family and community.