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One of the oldest parochial educational institutions in the Southwest United States is Sacred Heart Academy, presently known as Sacred Heart Catholic School. This institution has been an important factor in the education of thousands of students, many of whom are occupying important social and civic positions on both sides of the historic Rio Grande. As graduates of Sacred Heart School and as heads of Christian families, they are rendering outstanding service to their communities throughout the state and the nation.


This institution was established by The Sisters of the charity of the Incarnate Word, whose mother house is in San Antonio, Texas. It had its humble beginnings soon after the establishment of the first Catholic Church in the community then known as San Felipe Del Rio. Sacred Heart Catholic Church was established in 1895. Prior to this time, the greatest number of residents of the village attended religious services at the hacienda of the Losoya sisters.


Father F. X. Brule, O. M. I., a stout French Oblate Missionary had the honor of being the first pastor of the newly established church. As pastor of the first Catholic Church, Father Brule wanted to do more for the community. He brought four Sisters to open the first Catholic School in San Felipe Del Rio in 1900 and Sister Adolphe was the first Superior.

The school was a small two-room frame building, big enough to accommodate the 40 children of all ages who attended the first day of classes during the month of September 1900.


The original frame schoolhouse was practically destroyed by a fire on October 10th 1903. Since there was no fire department in those early days, a Bucket Brigade of Mercy was immediately formed by all able-bodied men to assist in extinguishing the fire. The General Town store, which maintained in storage, buckets for such emergencies, provided 100 buckets to assist in putting out the huge blaze. The human chain was formed along the dirt street from the irrigation canal nearby to the burning building. This group of hard-working men labored for hours but was unable to save much of the building or its contents.


Among the original four members of the teaching staff were two most active and daring nuns, who immediately started the drive for the building of the new school. They went out to meet the people of the small town who so willingly came forward with varied offerings with which to rebuild the little two-room frame schoolhouse. It was a mandate from the people of the community, assuring the Sisters that they had come to Del Rio to stay. The Cornerstone was laid “as He would have it, in happy poverty and willing sacrifice,” as it was stated by Rev. Edward Harrison, O.M.I., a Sacred Heart Academy alumni, during Jubilee Day celebrated during the month of November in 1950.

In 1905, the school had an enrollment of 100 students and at that time it was decided that a high school was needed. A brick building was then constructed at the expense of the chief convent from San Antonio. The land was donated by the Calvin Wallen family.

The first high school graduates of the class of 1909 were Emma Stewart, Margaret Owen, Ollie McCue, Julian LaCrosse, Margaret Qualia, Hallie Owen, Hercelia de la Fuente, and John Watts.


The high school department was fully accredited by the Texas State Department of Education.


The present brick and stone stucco building was constructed in 1929. In 1944, the high school became co-educational. It remained as such until the high school year 1962-1963, when, unfortunately, its operation had to be phased out. This was the result of several factors, including rising costs of operation and additional pressures to meet state accreditation requirements. The last high school graduates of the class of 1963 included Ramonelia Martinez, Frances Heres, Estela Guzman, Esperanza Cordero, Mary Gloria Veliz, Dora Estela Maceas, Marie Frausto, Robert Flores, Ernesto Guzman, Carolyn Espinoza, and Elaine Lathanam.

Since 1963, the school has been very successful in the operation of three levels of instruction: primary, intermediate, and junior high.

The cafeteria was opened in 1969. This was made possible through the efforts of the Sister Honoria, Father Jerome Burnett, and Mr. Cy Samuels, who was instrumental in securing a grant for the school from The Moody foundation in Galveston, Texas. This same year, the school was completely air-conditioned with assistance from the Parent-Teacher Club.


Sacred Heart School has now been in operation for more than a century. With the love and support of the San Felipe Del Rio, Laughlin Air Force Base, and Cuidad Acuna, Coahuila, Mexico communities, Sacred Heart School will continue with the mission it was created for: educating the mind, heart, body, and soul of tomorrow's leaders as heads of Catholic families and servants of their communities.