Bishop Maurice Schexnayder, installed in 1956, headed the Diocese of Lafayette next. He was a native of Wallace, La., ordained in 1925 in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. A former chaplain of the LSU Catholic Student Center in Baton Rouge, he came to Lafayette from St. Francis de Sales Parish, Houma, where he had been pastor and dean. He was auxiliary bishop to Bishop Jeanmard for five years until Bishop Jeanmard retired in 1956.
The years under Bishop Schexnayder were a time of growth. During this time, Bishop Schexnayder established church parishes, ordained a large number of native vocations, and established diocesan offices for family life and Catholic social services. He attended the Second Vatican Council and issued pastoral letters implementing its decrees.
A long range building program included Consolata (a diocesan home for the aged), a new building at Immaculata Seminary, and the Diocesan chancery building.
Bishop Schexnayder also encouraged lay participation through the establishment of parish councils, school boards and other lay advisory groups. He also stressed the right of all to religious instruction, issuing pastoral letters which warned against neglect or interference in this area.
Coat of Arms
The sinister impalement bears by custom in pre1atical heraldry the personal arms of the Ordinary of the Diocese. Our Lady's colors, blue and white, are predominant on the shield, since the field and the pale (vertical bar) display these tinctures. Wavy lines in heraldry indicate water and the wavy pale is the heraldic equivalent of the Mississippi River which flows through Louisiana, the birthplace of the Bishop, and the scene of his priestly labors.
The folded fleur-de-lis on the blue field at once represents the French ancestry of Bishop Schexnayder and the State of Louisiana, named in honor of King Louis XIV of France, where members of the Bishop's family before him had labored as farmers since 1721. Three golden fleurs-de-lis on a blue field are the arms of France.
The golden Roman eagle on the right is the symbol of St. Maurice, the baptismal patron of the Bishop. It is wounded to commemorate his martyrdom. This symbol recalls St. Maurice, the "primicerius" (commander) of the. Theban Legion, whose members laid down their lives rather than worship false gods. When a tribe of the Gauls called the Bagandae rose in revolt against the Roman Empire, Augustus Maximian Herculius marched against them with an army, including the Theban Legion. This legion had been recruited in Upper Egypt and was composed to a great extent of Christians. When the legion arrived in octodurum on the Rhone above the Lake of Geneva, Maximian issued an order that the whole army should join in offering sacrifice to the Roman gods for the success of their expedition. The Christian legion refused to attend and was decimated in consequence. When they still persevered in their refusal, they were massacred en masse. Maurice as their leader encouraged them to die with him for their Faith. St. Eucharius is the principal witness for this story. He was Bishop of Lyons during the first half of the Fifth Century. St. Theodore, Bishop of octodurum, had a vision of the place of burial of these martyrs and subsequently a basilica was built in octodurum to honor St. Maurice and the Theban Legion. St. Maurice is the Patron of the Swiss Guard of the Pope, sword smiths, weavers and dyers. He is also the patron of infantry soldiers - a worthy thought for our troubled times.
The motto "Ad Te Clamamus" is translated 'To Thee do we cry” and is taken from the hymn to the Blessed Virgin “Salve Regina.” It appears in red letters on a golden edged scroll.
The external ornaments are composed of the green pontifical hat with its six tassels on each side disposed in three rows, and the precious mitre, the processional cross and the crosier, all in gold. These are the presently accepted heraldic trappings of a prelate of the rank ofBishop. Before 1870, the pontifical hat was worn at solemn cavalcades held in conjunction with papal functions. The color of the pontifical hat and the number and color of the tassels were signs of the rank of a prelate, a custom which is still preserved in ecclesiastical heraldry.