The Old Hen

Janet Moore Birthday Hat

Janet Evaline Moore, founder of L’Arche Cape Breton, died peacefully last night at her home in Orangedale, two days before her 63rd birthday.

Janet Tom and Ann-350

Tom and Ann Gunn and Janet Moore

Tom and Ann Gunn invited Janet to live with their family in 1983, marking the start of an intentional community that is now home to some 25 Core Members and a varied group of assistants from Cape Breton and around the world.

Janet Moore was a gentle, funny, loving woman, with an out-sized capacity to move and inspire people around her. She and her long-time friends, Cathy Brady and Mary LeBlanc, the Old Hens, enlivened events at L’Arche with a running commentary from the sidelines — a cross between a comical Greek chorus and a kinder, gentler version of the Muppets’ Statler and Waldorf.

Janet adored the Cape Breton singer Rita MacNeil, who graciously hosted a 60th birthday party for her at Rita’s Tea Room in 2007.

Cathy Brady, Rita MacNeil, and Janet Moore

Cathy Brady, Rita MacNeil, and Janet Moore

Over the last two years, Janet underwent the steep decline that often overtakes people with Down Syndrome in their 50s and 60s. She spent her last days at The Vinyard, a L’Arche residence in Orangedale, surrounded by friends who stroked her hair, held her hands, and sang quietly to her.

“Our community is making a significant passage as we say goodbye to Janet,” Community Leader Jenn Power wrote in an email to L’Arche friends early this morning. “We know life will feel different now, but we know just as surely that Janet’s faithfulness to the mission of L’Arche will continue to be our example.”

Mary LeBlanc and Janet Moore

Mary LeBlanc and Janet Moore

It is difficult to overstate the impact Janet had on everyone at L’Arche, or the sadness that will be felt there, and among the far flung diaspora of former L’Arche assistants around the world.

The wake will take place from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm on Janet’s birthday, Saturday, at The Vineyard in Orangedale. The funeral will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, in the L’Arche Chapel at Iron Mines, with a reception to follow in Orangedale.