In 1964, Canadian Jean Vanier invited two men with developmental disabilities to live with him in an old home in the French village of Trosley-Breuil. He named the house L’Arche (French for ark) after Noah’s ark and gradually welcomed not only more men and women with developmental disabilities but also the assistants who would live and work with them. Since then L’Arche has grown into an international federation of 153 communities, 21 projects, in 38 countries on 5 continents.
Each community is unique, yet we all share a common vision of the basic dignity of each human person. We seek to create homes and provide meaningful work for all our community members in an attempt to create a world where everyone, regardless of ability or disability, is recognized as being of equal value.
Covenant House was the first house to welcome me for dinner after I joined the L’Arche Antigonish Community. After pulling my car into the driveway and making my way to the front door I was greeted by Eileen who offered to take my jacket. Heather MacKinnon took my hand and led me throughout the house giving me a tour of each room that reflected the personalities of each occupant. Other members of the house worked together to prepare our meal and set the table. Gathering together we bowed our heads to say a prayer expressing gratitude for our friendships and the delicious meal decorating the table in front of us.
After leaving the house with a full stomach I couldn’t help but reflect on how such a simple act, like sharing food with each other, can leave such a lasting impression. In a world that can seem to be moving quickly, taking the time to celebrate moments of togetherness is an invaluable experience. Thank you Covenant House for the warm welcome.