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Remembering Litecky: Roncalli's founding principal

Link: http://www.htrnews.com/story/news/education/2015/04/13/remembering-litecky-roncallis-founding-principal/25733127/

From: htrnews.com

Phillip Bock, HTR Media 4:07 p.m. CDT April 13, 2015

Cyril Litecky, founding principal of Roncalli High School, died April 4 at age 88. A memorial mass will be April 15 at the school in Manitowoc.

Brother Cyril Litecky from the first Roncalli yearbook in 1966.(Photo: Submitted)


MANITOWOC – A portrait of Cyril Litecky, the founding principal of Roncalli High School, hangs in the institution's school office as an honor to the educator. Litecky, who served in the role from 1965 to 1973, died April 4 at age 88 in Bethlehem in the Holy Land.

"Each day when I enter school, I am reminded of the dedication of Brother Cyril. His leadership at our school was a blessing to our community as we opened a Catholic high school in 1965," John Stelzer, the current Roncalli president, said in an email. "His portrait is a reminder of the challenge to continue working with young people from all backgrounds, helping them to develop spiritually and academically. The legacy of Brother Cyril and those early staff members lives on through our many graduates and their families today."

A De La Salle Christian Brother for 65 years, Litecky served as the leader of Roncalli from 1965 to 1973. Since 1984, he has served in various administrative capacities at Bethlehem University on the West Bank in Palestine, most recently as assistant vice chancellor.

"Bethlehem has been a place of unrest for many years. The university he served was often a target of bombings and invasions, but Brother Cyril's dedication to his mission there never wavered," said James Kersten, a former history teacher, athletic director, and coach at Roncalli. "His faith was greater than his fear, and I truly admired him for that."

Litecky was born Oct. 23, 1926, in Minneapolis, son of Paul and Mary (Kovacs) Litecky. He was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Air Force, entered the novitiate of the Brothers in Glencoe, Missouri, in 1950, and professed his final vows in 1955.

The educator earned a bachelor of arts from St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and earned a master of arts from St. Mary's University in Winona, Minnesota.

He taught at the De La Salle Institute in Chicago and was a principal at Pacelli High School in Stevens Point before founding Roncalli in Manitowoc.

Ron Klestinski, a former teacher, dean of students and coach at Roncalli, also worked with Litecky at Pacelli High School and remembered him as an effective educator and leader who cared about every student.

"He wanted to develop a school that had a strong catholic identity and academic excellence — and he did that," Klestinski said. "He cared about every student, no matter who they were. He was very fair with everyone and gave them direction to be successful."

In his role as principal at Roncalli, he was remembered as an inspirational leader and a good listener. Klestinski said Litecky was "a man of great faith and a tremendous Christian leader."

 

     

"I feel very blessed to be a part of those early years working with a great staff and community under his leadership," he said.

Litecky had a reputation for challenging both students and staff, but was a very welcoming, warm individual, according to Kersten, who taught at Roncalli from 1965 to 2000 and remained in contact with Litecky.

"His passion for serving students, parents, and teachers was built around the Christian Brothers doctrine of educating and respecting all people," he said. "He made my family not only feel welcome in 1965 when I was hired, but also appreciated in such a way that we remain a part of Roncalli to this day."

Kersten, who's wife was diagnosed with cancer in August, said Litecky would call every month to check in and offer support.

                                                                                                                                          
Cyril Litecky (Photo:  Submitted)                                                

"Brother Cyril came across as a somewhat quiet and serious man, but he also liked to have fun. We enjoyed many family dinners and occasional golf games over the years, but the true mark of his loyalty and friendship were the many supportive calls he made when learning of my wife's cancer diagnosis," Kersten said. "He would call us every month for the last six months."

Litecky kept close ties in the Manitowoc community, even while working abroad. He regularly called former colleges and would visit each summer in June to meet with his former Roncalli staff and faculty.

Two years ago, unable to make the drive from his hometown of Minneapolis himself, he enlisted the help of a friend to make the trip over. He was unable to make the drive last summer.

"Last year, he didn't have a brother to drive him, so he called. That's the kind of brother he was," Klestinski said.

A memorial fund to support financial aid has been established by friends of Brother Cyril at Roncalli High School.

A memorial mass for Brother Cyril will be at 1:50 p.m., Wednesday, April 15, in the Zimmer Auditorium at Roncalli High School. Members of the community are welcome to attend the liturgical service with Roncalli students and staff.

Phillip Bock: (920) 686-2966, pbock@htrnews.com, or @bockling on Twitter

Assignments of Cyril Litecky:
1952-1955 De La Salle H.S., Chicago, IL
1955-1965 Pacelli H.S., Stevens Point, WI
1965-1973 Roncalli H.S., Manitowoc, WI
1973-1975 Auxiliary Provincial, Winona Province
1975-1977 DeLaSalle H.S., Minneapolis MN
1977-1983 Provincial, Winona Province
1983-1984 Sabbatical, University of Notre Dame, IN
1984-1989 Bethlehem University, Holy Land
1989-1991 DeLaSalle H.S., Minneapolis, MN
1991-2015 Bethlehem University, Holy Land

Memorial mass to be held

A memorial mass for Brother Cyril will be held Wednesday at 1:50 p.m. in the Zimmer Auditorium at Roncalli High School. Members of the community are welcome to attend the liturgical service with Roncalli students and staff.

Bethlehem University Foundation
Email: brds@bufusa.org
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
E-mail: info@bethlehem.edu
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine