History of St. Leo Parish

St. Leo was founded in 1879 by Fr. J.B.A. Brondel, a missionary priest. Belgian-born Fr. Peter Hylebos was appointed the first pastor if St, Leo in Tacoma. In 1901 Fr. Hylebos purchased the current site of St. Leo and built a 2200-seat church. The Jesuit Tradition at St. Leo began in 1911 when Fr. John Cunningham, S.J. became pastor. In 1912 the Jesuits opened St. Leo’s primary school for boys and girls, as well as a high school for boys.
In 1919 the massive church building suffered destruction in a fire. The congregation at the time restored the church basement as a temporary church, where we continue to worship today.

In 1974 the St. Leo Girls High School closed, and in 1976 the grade school closed due to families relocating to other parishes.

During the 1980’s the community began its collaboration with Catholic Community Services to renovate the school building to accommodate the Hospitality Kitchen, the Neighborhood Clinic, the St. Leo Food Connection, and services provided by Catholic Community Services as well as their administrative offices. This was done under the leadership of Fr. Pat Carroll, S.J. and is now referred to as the Tahoma Center.

“A Jesuit parish, a Catholic community
centered in the Eucharist,
enriched by diversity,
committed to Gospel values,
and continually seeking to be Christ’s servant presence in the world.”