SAN ANTONIO – Many parents and students are devastated after officials of St. Leo the Great Catholic School made the decision to permanently close the school by at the end of the school year.
This closure comes after being open for 100 years, impacting thousands of people on the South Side of town.
"I've been here for over 30 years," said Natalie Zapata, a mother of one of the 115 enrolled students. "My son has been here for two years. He's autistic, so it is one of those things where I couldn't really find a good school for him, but this was home for us, so we had a lot of plans."
A meeting was held Thursday evening at the school, where parents, faculty and students received the news.
"I really don't want to leave," said Shyanne Murphy, a seventh-grader at the school. "I love them. They are like family. The best three years of my life. They really taught me everything."
Archdiocese of San Antonio Director or Communications Jordan McMorrough said there were many circumstances they could fight no longer that caused the closure to happen.
"Change in demographics in the neighborhood, declining enrollment for a number of years, financial instability and a shift in the educational landscape," McMorrough said.
McMorrough said though it is painful right now, he hopes families can celebrate the school's legacy.
"They need to know they have fought for this school," McMorrough said. "When that pain subsides and they look back on the history of this school, it is something the St. Leo the Great community, the Archdiocese in the community and San Antonio can be proud of."
Parents said they can only pray it reopens again.
"We all need to come together and pray that it is going to come back for our children to teach them that they need God in their life," said Christina Lucio.
McMorrough said officials plan to hold a school fair to provide more information on Catholic school options for students. It will be held in the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center at 2718 West Woodland from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. June 12. He said they will also have assistance for teachers to help find available jobs in other Catholic schools on their website at www.archsd.com.