Come, Lord Jesus! is a program that was developed in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, in the late nineteen sixties and early seventies. It is the fruit of many years of prayer, reflection on Sacred Scripture, and experimentation. Let me tell you the story – how Come, Lord Jesus! originated, developed, and became part of my life.
- Fr. Conley Bertrand
In 1959, after nine years of intensive training, Fr. Conley Bertrand was ordained a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Lafayette. Graced with a love for prayer and Scripture and an ardent zeal, he sought to communicate these qualities to his parishioners. From 1959 until 1969, he worked with various programs – some that already existed and some he adapted.
"Somehow the desired effects were always lacking. People were not committed to weekly meetings; they were not filled with the fervor and zeal that I knew our Catholic faith was capable of communicating."
In 1969, Fr. Bertrand began gathering Scripture text reflecting a particular theme and used these texts to form a program. As he continued to experiment with small groups – both youth and adult – the material gradually evolved into a simpler and more flexible form.
The Program Comes Together
In 1974, the Come, Lord Jesus! program began to flourish. Amazingly, where previous attempts failed to keep groups together (despite Fr. Bertrand's best efforts to assist them in person), Fr. Bertrand found that this new program worked; members continued to meet week after week. New groups were started in other parts of the Diocese. These groups thrived without Fr. Bertrand's close supervision. Forty groups began that first year; this number increased to 80 the next year, and to 180 the following year. Currently there are hundreds of groups scattered throughout the Lafayette Diocese and in most other Dioceses of Louisiana, in many other states, and even in other countries.
This program is so powerful that it has kept hundreds of its members meeting every week for several years. Several groups that were started in 1974 are still meeting today.
By Its Fruits
Come, Lord Jesus! continues to transform the lives of its members into the very likeness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). Members become persons of deep prayer. They come to know and live the Scriptures. They witness their faith in word and deed. They are distinguished by their love for God, for one another, and for all of God's people. They express that love through various forms of ministry.