History

L’Arche (French for “the Ark”) was founded in 1964 in Trosly, France by the philosopher and theologian Jean Vanier, along with his mentor Father Thomas Philippe.  Vanier and Philippe invited two developmentally disabled men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to come and share their home and their lives together in the spirit of the Gospels and the commandments as preached by Jesus Christ.

 

From this first Roman Catholic community in France, the L’Arche movement has spread to other countries, reflecting the various cultural and religious backgrounds in which it has developed.  Over 5,000 people with intellectual and physical disabilities currently find a place to live within the international L’Arche community.

Lviv is the first city in Ukraine to establish a chapter of the L’Arche International movement.  Supporting movement of people with special needs was started in 1992 by Zenia Kushpeta, a Canadian-Ukrainian, who had been a professional pianist and University Instructor at that time.  Through her work Kushpeta has always strived to help the physically and developmentally disabled:  by organizing volunteers, working with the developmentally disabled through art and dance therapy, and other rehabilitation work.  As a result of her efforts, Lviv has seen the establishment of the educational-rehabilitation center “Dzherelo”, the “Faith and Light” community which operates in over 30 countries worldwide and organizes persons with developmental disabilities, their parents and volunteers, and the Emmaus Center for support of persons with special needs.

In 1998 the first workshop for the developmentally disabled was organized in Lviv.  This workshop has evolved into four daily handicraft workshops, along with an afternoon program for those having more profound disabilities, and became the basis for the “Kovcheh Community” established in 2004.  In March 2008 the community officially became a part of L’Arche International.

From its very beginnings, the establishment of L’Arche-Kovcheh in Ukraine had the support and blessings of His Eminence Patriarch Lubomyr Husar of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.