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The Story of L’Arche Cork
On 18th January 1985 L’Arche Cork was born when three core members moved into An Croí (the heart) along with a few assistants. These were joined the following year by three more core members. In 1989 four core members along with assistants moved into a second home called Suaimhneas, (place of rest). Right from the start L’Arche Cork had a work project. The workshop got a permanent home in 1994 with the opening of Le Cheile (together) in a purpose built centre in Togher on land generously given to us by the parish. This now accommodates the day programme where we have projects in candle-making, weaving, woodwork, jewellery making, printing, life-skills and gardening. This is also a place for community gatherings and the administration centre.
Since then we have opened 3 more homes- An Teaghlach (the hearth), An Cuan (the harbour) and Dochas (hope). Today we have 20 core members who live in 4 homes and 8 project workers who join the day programme in Le Cheile. All our homes are situated in the western suburbs of Cork City. Some are within walking distance of each other and of Le Cheile. The city, situated on the banks of the river Lee has a population of 123,000 people. It is located on the South West coast of Ireland and is the 2nd largest city in the Republic of Ireland. Cork is a University City with a student population in excess of 25,000 in two main third level education institutes - University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology.
Over 300 volunteer assistants have spent time in L’Arche Cork since we opened our first home in 1985. In any one year we welcome about 20 assistants. Most assistants join us for one full year though we do welcome a few each year for 3-6months. L’Arche Cork – a place to grow! There are many opportunities for assistants to reflect on their own personal journey in our community: accompaniment, formation, reflection mornings, personal journaling, evaluation as well as space for prayer and sharing.
Assistants can expect to develop and improve their skills in running a home- cooking, cleaning, laundry etc. They also develop organizational skills like budgeting, record keeping and time management. Assistants who get fully involved in the life of the community develop interpersonal and communicating skills, as well as cooperation, negotiation, patience, and tolerance. We believe that an appreciation of the L’Arche Identity & Mission fosters peacemaking and understanding in our world.
L’Arche Cork is a community of participation - i.e. everyone, new or old, core member or assistant has their part to play according to their own gifts. The basic requirement is an openness of heart to relationship and a willingness to serve and get involved in the day to day life of the community. Central to all we live in L’Arche is the relationship with the person with a disability. We believe that this relationship is mutually transformative, a sign of hope and a powerful witness in our world.
We are a community of faith which implies a trust in a loving creator and gratitude for all that is given and for all those who come. We live this faith in simple ways – e.g. grace before meals and community prayer. Our core members are predominantly Roman Catholic and so we celebrate a Eucharist most weeks in Le Cheile. We ask that all those who join us have an openness to this whatever their own faith background. We welcome diversity and see it as a gift.