Sabinal priest helps Uvalde community in light of tragedy

SABINAL – On the day of the shooting at Robb Elementary School, Father Matthew DeLeon responded immediately by meeting children and their families at the hospital.

“Devastating and traumatic, but also very overwhelming, breathtaking to see the depth of their faith,” said Fr. DeLeon, who is a priest and dean of the deanery of Uvalde.

Every moment of May 24 is still etched in his mind.

“I was able to arrive in time and to the emergency room to be able to receive many victims who were arriving, many children, to give them the anointing of the sick,” Fr. DeLeon said.

Many families attend Sacred Heart Catholic Church, just down the street from Robb Elementary.

A few days after the massacre, the majority of the funerals took place there.

“It’s overwhelming and disorienting, but at the same time, just amazing,” he said.

DeLeon’s church in nearby Sabinal is similar – tight-knit, as he describes it.

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This is why he did not hesitate to intervene when the priest of the Sacred Heart was absent on the day of the shooting.

“I started helping from that day to that day, God willing, for the next six months. We have immediate resources available,” DeLeon said.

At the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart, there are bereavement counsellors, financial assistance and housing assistance – anything the community might need.

“We are since that day. We’ve been doing it ever since. And we are going to be there as long as necessary,” he said.

On the day of President Biden’s visit to Uvalde, Father DeLeon helped Sacred Heart organize a community Mass to pray for victims and survivors.

People described the church as the heart of the community. It’s a heart that’s broken but working to heal.

“Although we go through these difficult and sometimes unimaginable times, it is by helping each other that we heal,” DeLeon said.

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Church resources are in addition to resources available at the Uvalde Together Resiliency Center.

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