On September 14, 1851, seven Ursuline Sisters from New Orleans and Galveston, headed by Sister St. Marie Trouard, arrived in San Antonio to start a girls’ school at Bishop Jean M. Odin’s request. On November 3, Ursuline Academy opened classes. It was then the second oldest, and eventually became the oldest, girls’ school in Texas. The original convent was built in 1851 on the San Antonio River at Augusta Street. According to nineteenth-century history, by 1887 Ursuline Academy drew students “from all parts of western Texas and Mexico” to its “accommodations for seventy to eighty boarders . . . with the unqualified endorsement of the parents and guardians,” who found “the facilities, equipment, site, buildings and instruction first class.”
The growth of downtown San Antonio finally necessitated a change of location for the school, and in 1961 the first of the new buildings for Ursuline Academy rose on Vance Jackson Road and was ultimately completed in 1979.
The Ursuline Sisters continued to run the school until the early 1990′s. The eight remaining sisters ranged in age from 63 to 94 and were looking to retire. They decided to put their 40 acres of prime real estate and 90,000 square feet of buildings up for sale. Having heard that Pastor John Hagee was looking for property to build a school, the sisters called him. Pastor Hagee went to see the school and was met by a sister who had come from the Vatican to oversee the sale.
“It was in perfect condition,” Pastor Hagee said. “There wasn’t a hairline crack. I was shocked when I was told the price and asked why it was so low.”
Pastor Hagee was then told that the delay in selling the property had meant the sisters had to draw on their retirement accounts to live. Pastor Hagee then said, “I want to buy this school by the close of business tomorrow.”
Pastor Hagee, the sisters, and their attorneys met the next morning. The Ursulines’ attorney said, “Shall we tell Reverend Hagee the real problem?” At that point Pastor Hagee thought the whole deal would fall through because of some problem he hadn’t been informed of.
The attorney for the sisters explained that the archdiocese had expected them to move out of the convent immediately after it was sold and asked what Pastor Hagee wanted the sisters to do.
“My plan would be to give them a five year lease to the convent, and I will charge them ten dollars a year. We will pay all utilities and up-keep.” Pastor Hagee then took a 50-dollar bill from his pocket and paid the lease himself. One sister looked at the attorney and said, “Let’s get this thing done.”
The following Sunday, Pastor Hagee sent his church bus to the Ursuline convent, picked up the sisters, brought them to his church, and seated them in the front row for both services. “I thanked them publicly for their lives of sacrifice and devotion to Jesus Christ. The congregation gave them standing ovations because the campus we bought was the fruit of their labor, a testimonial of their commitment to Christ.”
The Ursuline sisters stayed in the convent for twelve years, free of any cost. “We were glad to bear the cost to express our appreciation for what they had done for the Kingdom of God.” During that time, those sisters who were able, walked around the campus and through the halls of Cornerstone Christian Schools.
“Our children hugged them; they would reach out and grab them by the hands. They were very precious to us for what they had done with their whole lives which had been invested in building this wonderful school. We were glad to honor them as long as they walked on this earth,” said Pastor Hagee.
Cornerstone Christian Schools opened its doors in 1993 to grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. In 1994, they added 9th -11th grade and the first senior class graduated in 1996. The school campus still occupies the 40 acres on Vance Jackson road and now has over 150,000 square feet of state of the art educational and athletic buildings.
In the 2013-2014 school year, the Kinder Campus opened on the grounds of Cornerstone Church. This campus currently educates K4 and K5 students. The construction of a brand new campus at NW Military and Loop 1604 is underway and will open in August 2017.
Our purpose is to administer a top quality education to all who attend from pre-kindergarten through their senior year. They will not only be equipped with knowledge, but with the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and what it means to live their lives as victorious Christians. We are committed to excellence in every area without exception.