Jules Benjamin Jeanmard Edit Profile
He then attended St. Joseph Seminary in Gessen and Holy Cross College in New Orleans. He studied for the priesthood at St. Louis Diocesan Seminary in New Orleans and at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.
He served as Bishop of Lafayette in Louisiana from 1918 to 1956. He received his early education at the parochial school of St. Bernard Church in his native city. Jeanmard was ordained a priest in New Orleans on June 10, 1903.
His first assignment was as a curate at St. Louis Cathedral, where he served through the yellow fever epidemic of 1905. He served as secretary to Archbishop James Blenk from 1906 to 1914, and chancellor of the Archdiocese of New Orleans from 1914 to 1917. He also served as vicar general for spiritual affairs of the archdiocese.
Following the death of Archbishop Blenk, he served as apostolic administrator of New Orleans from 1917 to 1918. He then served as apostolic administrator of the newly erected Diocese of Lafayette. On July 18, 1918, Jeanmard was appointed the first Bishop of Lafayette by Pope Benedict XV. He received his episcopal consecration on the following December 8 from Archbishop Giovanni Bonzano, with Bishops Theophile Meerschaert and John Laval serving as co-consecrators.
He was the first native Louisianan to become a Catholic bishop. During his 38-year tenure, Jeanmard established Immaculata Seminary, St. Mary's Orphan Home, Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House, the Catholic Student Center at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, a retreat wing of the Most Holy Sacrament Convent, a Carmelite monastery, and numerous schools and churches. He encouraged diocesan-sponsored television programs, religious radio programs in both English and French, and a diocesan newspaper The Southwest Louisiana Register.
He also issued pastoral letters in support of the rights of labor to organize. In 1943, he was named an Assistant at the Pontifical Throne by Pope Pius XII in 1943. In March 1923, when the citizens of Lafayette were on the verge of rioting following a public reading of the Ku Klux Klan, Jeanmard encouraged the people to return to their homes.
In 1934, he welcomed the first African American priests into the diocese. He also established a number of separate parishes for African Americans, whom he did not want intimidated or infringed upon by whites. With financial assistance from Mother Katharine Drexel, he helped establish a number of rural parochial schools for African Americans.
In November 1955, he excommunicated two women in Erath after they beat another woman who taught an integrated catechism class. On March 13, 1956, Jeanmard retired as Bishop of Lafayette. He was appointed titular bishop of Bareta by Pius XII on the same date.
He later died at a hospital in Lake Charles, at age 77. He is interred at St. John Cathedral in Lafayette.