The Church of Saint Leo was founded June 14, 1945 by order of Archbishop John G. Murray in response to the rapid growth of the southwest portion of St. Paul. The first pastor. Reverend Bernard H. Murray, was appointed June 20.
The Highland Theater was offered to the new parish as an auditorium for Sunday Masses and became the home of the church for eighteen months. The first Mass was celebrated in the theater on June 24, 1945. A vacant store in the Highland Village served as a chapel for baptisms, penance and daily Mass through April 1946, when the chapel was moved to the new parish rectory until a permanent building was ready.
On December 4, 1945 ground was broken for construction of a combined church and school building. On Christmas Eve of 1946, St. Leo parishioners attended Midnight Mass in the basement of the newly constructed building, but the first Mass in the upper church was not celebrated until February 2, 1947. Archbishop Murray dedicated the new church on July 13, 1947 and St. Leo School was opened the following September.
Parish growth dictated the decision to build a permanent church and it was constructed on parish property at Cleveland and Bohland Avenues. The first Mass was celebrated in the new church on July 10, 1965. After more than twenty years, parishioners of St. Leo finally had a permanent home.