Father John Gary Schexnayder

Father John Gary Schexnayder served as Guest Speaker for the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Nonco Foundation.  His message is exerpted below:
Reverend Father Gary Schexnayder’s Message was based on Colossians Chapter 1:10 “…To live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God….” His words were to encourage us to try to measure up to what God want us to do.  Saints give us the example of holiness and sanctity.  The goal of our life is to be a saint…”live in a manner worthy of the Lord.” 

As Father Gary, or "Father Mack" as he is affectionately called in his hometown of Arnaudville, has done in the past, he showed the audience his T-Shirt with a smiling face and asked Lindy LeBlanc to read what was written on it:  “Smile, Jesus loves you!”  He shared with us the love of Jesus he has experienced since his retirement after 41 years as a priest and since he has been diagnosed with lymphoma, a form of the most treatable cancer. He talked about his experience with chemo and the overwhelming kindness people have shown to him.  He recommends not to feel sorry for the sick but instead to pray for them. 

He commented on those who influenced his life – Fr. Daniel Bernard and his devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the rosary recited in French; Sister Theopholus who made sure he behaved in school; Nonco whom he remembers as a hero to those who knew him.  Nonco was about a simple faith in God, was a servant of God; his perseverance of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an admirable thing.

He suggested that we let the heart of Jesus  be a guide for our lives.  "We need to pray to Nonco for more devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  We need a better you and a better me!  We also need to remember as we approach Christmas that 'Jesus is the reason for the season!'"

Thank you to Mary Hardy D. Belleau for recording Father Gary's words.
Born July 28, 1942


In Father Gary's congregation, you learn to wear a Smiley Face, too.  When you attend Sunday Mass, you will probably be greeted by someone wearing one and just to remind you, you will receive a smiley face for your lapel.  Father's vestments frequently are embroidered with a smiley face.  It has become his unofficial "logo."
Born in Arnaudville on July 28, 1942, to  Yves and Florence Guidry Schexnayder, John Gary  obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology from Catholic University in May 1967.  After a summer internship at Our Lady of Help of Christians,  Jennings, Louisiana, under Monsignor Charles Marin, he attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C.  He was ordained a priest on June 7, 1969 at Saint John Francis Regis Catholic Church in Arnaudville by Bishop Warren Boudreaux.

Perhaps because he was a student at Little Flower School, Father Gary eagerly explains to his parishioners:  “Since the third grade, I have had an interest in the priesthood. After all these years, I have tried to keep my focus and be the best representative of the Gospel that I can possibly be.  I became a priest to serve God and to serve you.”  

And, his parishioners feel he has been very successful. His homilies are interspersed with a few French words but his message in always on track!
Some of the Parishes where he has served:

Saint Edmonds, Lafayette

Saint Michael Church, Crowley, 2002

Saint Elizabeth Seton, Lafayette, 2012
Watch a Father Gary Video by clicking the smiley face!
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