7 years of L'Arche lessons

L’Arche Chicago’s former Director of Development, Sarah Ruszkowski, has spent the past 7 years with L’Arche. Her first five were with L’Arche Greater Washington D.C., where she served as both an assistant and a house coordinator. Her next two years were spent with L’Arche Chicago, where she worked in outreach and development. She reflects on what these past 7 years with L’Arche has taught her in this letter.


The L’Arche identity statement states, “We celebrate the unique value of every person and recognize our need of one another.” That line sums up the beauty and magic of L’Arche for me. It spells out L’Arche’s response to a very real need on our world. It captures the innumerable blessings I have received and it names what I plan to do for the rest of my life. That line has become the vocation imprinted on my heart.

In the beautiful, messy embrace of L’Arche I have been told over and over again, “Sarah, you are a beloved child of God.” A ridiculously large number of humans—of all different ages, backgrounds, abilities, faiths, and ways of seeing the world—revealed this truth to me over the years. Thank you.

Thank you to the core members who patiently waited for me to learn to slow down and to lessen my need for control. Thank you for forgiving me and hugging me and celebrating me and holding my hand. Thank you for singing with me and for teaching me how to be comfortable living life without a mask. Thank you to the assistants who taught me how to create home. Thank you for challenging me, for teaching me how to fight well and forgive better. Thank you for accepting my overwhelming enthusiasm for things like Valentine’s Day parties and road trip snacks. Thank you for allowing me to come into my own as a leader. Thank you to the mentors who saw gifts in me that I didn’t yet see in myself. Thank you for helping me grow and for giving me models of how to lead. Thank you to the volunteers, the neighbors, the donors and the friends who supported me during times of sadness and loss and joy and celebration. Thank you for continually reminding me to see the beauty of L’Arche. Thank you, L’Arche, for teaching me how see each person as a sacred child of God. Thank you for showing me how to mess up, ask for forgiveness, and try again. Thank you for teaching me to name people’s gifts and for naming my mine. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I believe that around the world there are more people than we will ever know who have encountered L’Arche in some way--through visiting the communities, living in the homes, or listening to the stories—and who have been touched by the love present within it. I believe with my whole heart that this love is impacting the way they see the world and that the world is a more compassionate and welcoming place because of it. Thank you for helping to make the word a better place.

Susan Zhu