History of the Loretto Academy

The Beginning of the Decline

Headline from the Las Cruces Sun-News,1943
Headline from the Las Cruces Sun-News, May 21, 1943.

The first three decades of the twentieth century saw an increased enrollment at the Loretto Academy, however the end was near for the Las Cruces school. A new Academy in El Paso, founded in 1922, drained students from the Las Cruces Academy, and the loss of students was exacerbated by disturbances on the Mexican border, the outbreak of World War I, and the Depression of the 1930s. The Sisters tried expanding the curriculum and offering more extracurricular activities to increase enrollment.

Last graduating class of the Loretto Academy
Last graduating class of the Loretto Academy. Las Cruces Sun-News, May 23, 1943.

Efforts to save the Academy included the establishment of a parochial school in Las Cruces, Holy Cross. In September 1927 Sisters Frances Paula and Mary Lidwina opened Holy Cross school with an enrollment of 206 students. Although Holy Cross is still in operation today, the Sisters were removed from its faculty in 1945.

Despite the Sisters' best efforts, the Academy was closed in 1943. The legacy of the Sisters remains in their students, some of whom still reside in the Las Cruces community.

Information based on the thesis The Sisters of Loretto in Las Cruces: The Education and "Americanization" of a Frontier Community, 1870-1943 by Wendy C. Simpson.