By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator 

When the fire of the Holy Spirit was breathed into the apostles at Pentecost, they were emboldened to preach the word as Jesus taught them and “go out to the ends of the earth.” Many were even persecuted for it, so it could be passed down to people of today. Following the pattern set by the apostles into modern day life, participants in the Come Lord Jesus! program say they focus on a community centered around prayer, Scripture, Eucharist and Christian community. 

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Members of a Come Lord Jesus! meeting at St. Aloysius Church in Baton Rouge pray the Our Father to conclude their meeting. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 

 

Originating in the Diocese of Lafayette, the program will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary with a conference Saturday, March 30, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., at St. Pius X Church, 201 E Bayou Pkwy, Lafayette.  

Come Lord Jesus! is modeled after Jesus’ formation of the disciples as recorded in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”   

The program, developed by Father Conley Bertrand, was introduced to the Diocese of Baton Rouge in late 1982, when Lisette Borné’s sister, Sister Camille Anne Campbell O’Carm, handed her a manual called “Come, Lord Jesus!” and said she might be interested in introducing it to St. Aloysius School in Baton Rouge. Sister Camille Anne said it was an active program at Vermillion Catholic High School in Abbeville where she was teaching.  

Borné said she had been asking God to show her what he wanted her to do in the coming year and God “answered her prayer in two big ways” in the spring of 1983.  

First, Borné and the other members of a moms’ prayer group decided Come, Lord Jesus! would be a good thing for the upcoming eighth-grade class at St. Aloysius. Borné approached principal Alan Powers, who gave quick, enthusiastic approval because he was familiar with the program.  

Secondly, Borné discovered she was expecting her and her husband’s, Deacon Dan Borné’s, fourth child, the first in nearly seven years. And 1983 saw the birth of Come, Lord Jesus! in Baton Rouge and David Borné.  

Borné coordinated the school program and formation of adult groups for 20 years. She then handed the reigns over to other coordinators who have faithfully guided the program.  

“With enthusiastic support from the pastors, school administrators and parent group leaders Come, Lord Jesus! will celebrate its 36th year at St. Aloysius this coming fall,” said Borné. 

Come Lord Jesus! spread to schools throughout the diocese. Noticing the change in their children after they participated in the program, the adults wanted to form their own groups.  

Cary Kearney, who leads a group that meets Tuesday mornings at St. Aloysius, said the Come Lord Jesus! format lends itself to a deeper appreciation of the upcoming Sunday Scripture readings and how those readings impact and challenge them.  

With an orange and white signs hanging on the wall in their meeting room saying “Gather with Grateful Heart,” the women began a recent meeting by taking turns giving a prayer of thanksgiving. They also offered prayers of petition. There was sharing of lives, that included thanks for physical healings and prayers for loved ones to return to the faith.  

Mary Carlin, diocesan co-coordinator of the Come Lord Jesus Program!, said she was invited by a friend to attend a Come Lord Jesus! meeting and immediately knew it was “where she was supposed to be.” Her mother had passed away and she was torn on whether she should retire from her 36-year job with special needs children.  

“I remember crying during my prayers and it was a very personal thing. It was like I was just there with Jesus. I didn’t even see anybody in the group. I love the Bible; I guess deep inside I’m kind of a history person. And it was just all of a sudden we were talking about the readings and everything came alive. And I just couldn’t wait for the next meeting. And since then I love to study the Gospels and the history behind it so I can understand,” said Carlin.  

“For me it’s the element of surprise, you never know where it’s going to take you. I never know where the meetings are going to touch me,” said Cindy Ristroph, diocesan co-coordinator for Come Lord Jesus! “There’s always something that stirs us and we share it.”  

Anelle Waguespack noted members of Come Lord Jesus! are people who love God and want to witness and serve others, beginning with their families and members of their small group. </span id=”16″>

“Without question we pray for things without even knowing the details,” said Waguespack.  

Come Lord Jesus! offers a variety of programs, including for men, families and outreach purposes.  

Merritt Guercio, who is a guidance counselor for students in grades sixth-eighth at St. Aloysius, and a facilitator of a young person’s group, participated in the program when she was a student at St. Aloysius.  

“We’ve had it almost three years now. Some have gotten married and had babies and our group has just become such a great support system for each other, and we have a group message text and we message each other daily and send prayers and prayer requests and sign up times to say the rosary together in our homes,” said Guercio.  

“And it’s just been this incredible support system. A young person’s group is important when you’re making such big decisions in your life.”  

For more information about Come Lord Jesus! and its anniversary celebration, visit comelordjesus.com or email cindy.ristroph@outlook.com.