Chicago Heights, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Friends and former colleagues from Marian Catholic High School remember fondly Margaret “Rone” Leja, killed last week in a hit-and-run accident in Orland Park. A man has been charged in connection with Ms. Leja’s death.
A colleague of Ms. Leja’s from St. Michael Catholic Church, Elizabeth Kosteck, was also hit and injured in the same incident.
Marian Catholic issued the following statement in the aftermath of Ms. Leja’s death,
The Marian Catholic Community extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Rone Leja and St. Michael’s School and Parish. A former member of the Marian Catholic faculty, Ms. Leja is fondly remembered by her colleagues and students.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Principal Steve Tortorello shared the following with eNews Park Forest, “Rone Leja was a passionate teacher deeply interested in discovery, exploration, and helping kids learn. She had a very inquisitive mind and was born to be a science teacher. She piloted our first engineering class and built a relationship with a generation of Marian Catholic Spartans. She will be deeply missed.”
Science teacher Barbara Murzyn worked closely with Ms. Leja and expressed her grief on social media on December 5, “I have had a heavy heart all day as I picture my friend Jen Lamb and principal coming to me to tell me about Rone Leja.”
Jennifer Lamb is Chair of the Mathematics Department at Marian Catholic.
“I was Rone’s mentor here at Marian and she was my daughter’s Physics teacher,” Ms. Murzyn continued. “Several times over the past years I have been thankful to Rone for preparing my daughter in an extremely difficult subject, physics.
“I am remembering Rone as a colleague and a friend. We taught chemistry together, we ate many lunches together and celebrated at many Christmas parties,” Ms. Murzyn said.
“My heart hurts and I have a lump in my throat as I watch the news in disbelief as they tell the story of what happened to Rone last night,” she continued.
She shared the compassionate response of her current students as the news of Ms. Leja’s passing sank in, “As I recap the day in my head I remember something else. I remember walking into class a few minutes before they made the announcement that Rone had died as a result of a hit-and-run. What I remember warms my heart and reminds me of why I have spent a lifetime at Marian Catholic H.S.
“My students in my 1st period that did not know Rone, knew something was wrong. They came up and hugged me and without any words offered the support I needed.
“I am grateful for my colleagues and students,” Ms. Murzyn said.
“When I forget, they remind me why I have spent my career at Marian Catholic HS,” she wrote. “RIP Rone Leja. You, your family, Marian Catholic, St. Michael School, and Elizabeth Kosteck will remain in my prayers.”
Mr. Jim Hudzik, a retired educator from Marian Catholic who returns periodically to sub, responded to Ms. Murzyn on Facebook, “Barb, Thank you for your kind words about Rone. I shared a classroom with her at times, and I remember those lunches in Peg’s room and the Christmas parties at Vince’s.”
Ms. Peggy Holzhauser currently teaches science at Marian Catholic. Vince Zerante is a retired science teacher and returns periodically to substitute.
“She was seriously Irish,” Mr. Hudzik continued, “and we would have her over to our place for corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick’s Day.
“She fit right in with our relatives and friends.
“She was a fine teacher and was game for new challenges like starting up the engineering program and teaching the new AP physics course. I’ll miss her.”
A traditional Catholic prayer offered after someone’s death, we can only conclude with the latter part of Marian Catholic High School’s statement, “Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
Margaret “Rone” Leja’s wake will be December 9th from 3:00 to 9:00 PM at Vandenberg Funeral Home, 17248 S. Harlem Ave., Tinley Park, IL, 60477.
December 10th, 11:15 AM, Vandenberg Funeral Home, 17248 S. Harlem Ave., Tinley Park, IL, 60477.
December 10th, 12:15 PM, St. Michael Church, 14327 Highland Ave., Orland Park, IL, 60462.