BRAINTREE -- Dozens of people prayed together in St. Rita Church in Lowell, March 16. Most of them were young adults, from different communities across Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. They were brought together by the event's sponsoring organization, Jesus aCROSS the Border.
Started about a year ago, the goal of Jesus aCROSS the Border is simple in concept, and perhaps difficult in practice: to draw together youth and young adults from different communities across New England, to gather together, connect, and share their love of the Lord.
The organization is the brainchild of Billy Beauchesne, a physical education teacher in his 30s and resident of Pelham, New Hampshire. The idea came a couple of years ago, when Beauchesne was looking for a young adult group to become involved in, and realized there were dozens of groups to choose from, far more than he ever expected.
It was then that he saw a need for an umbrella group, an organization that would "bring all the different groups together," said Beauchesne.
He officially formed Jesus aCROSS the Border about a year ago, and held its first event, an evening of Mass and adoration followed by a social gathering, at St. Joseph the Worker Shrine in Boston. Since then, it has held similar events each month at different churches, and has even organized trips, including a trip to Montreal, Canada to St. Joseph Oratory.
Beauchesne sees the organization as a networking opportunity for young adults, who are in the beginnings of their careers and can benefit from meeting like-minded people in the same stage of their lives. It's also a chance to unwind, forget about daily life, and focus on faith in a relaxed setting.
Generally, Beauchesne said, a monthly event will see around 100 to 120 people attend. At the March 16 event, the numbers were slightly lower, but regular participants did point out a few new faces, ones that they hope will become regulars.
The event began with a time of confession and Eucharistic adoration led by Father Richard Clancy, as well as a testimonial given by a New Hampshire woman who detailed a troubled early life, and a smoother later life after she deepened her relationship to God.
A Mass was celebrated by Father Clancy, and afterwards, the young adults were invited to tour the brand new Lowell Pregnancy Care Center nearby. A social with pizza closed out the night.
Isabella Peixoto was one of the young adults who attended. A parishioner of St. James Parish in Haverhill, she said she has been to every Jesus aCROSS the Border monthly gathering so far, and maintains a volunteer position with the organization as a community organizer for the Brazilian and Hispanic communities.
The organization, she told The Pilot, "just has been great for the young adult community."
Looking out at all the people gathered at the event and making a sweeping gesture, she said, "All of us here, we're all from a different group of young adults."
"There are so many groups out there that a lot of times people don't even know about, and this is a way to join us all together," she added.
Bridie Vail, a parishioner of St. Rita Parish in Lowell, has been to many of the group's events, including the trip to Montreal. She said she sees the social aspect of the group as a bonus, but its true purpose is to spend time with Jesus.
"It seems like when my life turns out to be topsy-turvy and upside down, and doesn't seem like I have enough time to go to things like this, it's exactly what I need every time I come," said Vail.
"I know that here I'm meeting Jesus, and he is meeting me exactly where I'm at."
The next monthly gathering Jesus aCROSS the Border is holding will be at Merrimack College in North Andover, April 20. Themed "College Night," the event will hold the same basic schedule as past gatherings, with a 7:30 p.m. period of adoration, confession, and music, followed by a 9 p.m. Mass, and a social.