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.
In 1959, after nine years of intensive training, I was ordained a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Lafayette. Graced with a love for prayer and Scripture and an ardent zeal, I sought to communicate these qualities to my parishioners. From 1959 until 1969, I worked with various programs – some that already existed and some I 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 while at St. Anne Church in Youngsville as associate pastor, I was inspired to begin putting the most beautiful scripture texts I could find into a program. I began to experiment using these with various groups of people, youth and adult. It was the Carmelite nuns who were enlightened to think of such a fitting image and creatively depict such a meaningful and inspiring logo for Come, Lord Jesus! I simply submitted the name to them, and they prayerfully processed it in their minds and hearts before the Lord.
This personal image of the Church as the Bride of Christ with outstretched arms awaiting and longing for her heavenly Bridegroom as the Bright Morning Star is the logo that the Holy Spirit gave them. Glory to God–only He could have inspired such an expressive, captivating, and apt logo. I continued to experiment and develop the program throughout my assignment as associate Pastor of St. Genevieve and pastor of St. Lawrence Church in Mowata.
Finally, when I became pastor at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Delcambre, meeting with a youth group, I added Song, Spontaneous Prayer, and Spiritual Reading to complete the twelve steps of the program. Whereas previously I was not able to keep groups together by being personally present at each meeting, now the groups persevered in meeting without my being there. Some have been meeting now non-stop for 40 years! Glory to God! He did that! I was just an old lead pencil that He used to do it. The Come, Lord Jesus! Program was so successful in Delcambre, Bishop Gerard Frey encouraged me to try its wings in the entire Diocese… .
I am indebted to all the other bishops, Arch-Bishop Harry Flynn, Bishop Edward O’Donnell, Bishop Glen Provost, and Bishop Michael Jarrell as well as Bishop Jude Speyrer who also encouraged me and personally assisted in the spread of the program as first Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Lake Charles.
The Program Comes Together
In 1974, the Come, Lord Jesus! program began to flourish. Amazingly, where previous attempts failed to keep groups together (despite my best efforts to assist them in person), I 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 my 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.