SAN ANTONIO - For the first time ever the Archdiocese of San Antonio will close one of its parishes. The church located on the city's west side will close after more than 70 years of service.

St. Stephen's is in an older community and the number of parishioners has dwindled. The good news is there are several other larger churches nearby that people can attend.

St. Stephen Catholic was built back in the 1950's and has a rather rich history. At one time, more than 1,000 families attended the church. They had a huge youth group that participated in softball games and won several tournaments.

Over the years as San Antonio grew and families moved out of the area, the number of parishioners dwindled. Now, there are about 40 families that attend and only one family had children.

The church has not had a resident pastor for about three years and the building needs a lot of repairs

The director of Communications for the Archdiocese of San Antonio said it's a financially responsible decision and while it may be sad for church members, it's also a new beginning.

"There is an excitement in attending parishes that offer new opportunities for ministry in which these parishioners can bring the gifts that they've received at St. Stephens and enrich these new parish communities through their experiences,” Jordan McMorrough, Archdiocese of San Antonio said.

Church members will be welcomed and at six other nearby parishes including St. John Berchmans and Immaculate Conception.

The Catholic community is growing in other communities such as the Westover Hills, Boerne and the Stone Oak area.

The archdiocese is looking into opening possibly eight new churches over the few years in those areas. In the meantime, the final mass at St. Stephen will be held Aug. 6 at noon.

Past members are encouraged to come and celebrate the church's rich history