Mater Dei Prep Draws Record Crowd For Seraph Strong Gala

On Saturday, February 9, Mater Dei Prep held its signature fundraising event, the Seraph Strong Gala, at The Sheraton Eatontown Hotel, in Eatontown. The sold-out event drew a record-breaking crowd, the most financially successful in the school’s history, featuring alumni, parents, students, and supporters, according to Donald Galante, the school’s President. A highlight of the evening was Mr. Galante’s announcement of a new alumni-gifted Science Center, a new Technology Center, and a newly-funded scholarship, as well as enrollment for incoming classes matching or exceeding expectations.

Randy MacDonald, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “This was a special evening, one of many more to come. The outpouring of support from the Mater Dei community was heartening – not just locally but from people who traveled from throughout the Northeast and elsewhere to show their devotion to a school that has long meant so much to them. The feeling in the crowded room was electric and optimistic. Our future is bright.”

Mr. Galante added: “The association of its community with Mater Dei is unique. The students who attended here decades ago still look back on the school as among the most rewarding time of their lives. The generosity of the alumni to enhance the academic and athletic programs at the school is a demonstration of their determination that future generations will benefit from the same educational experience that enriched their lives. This is our mission.”

The new Don Froude and Edwin “Skip” McLaughlin Science Center will provide state-of-the-art laboratories in biology and chemistry and the new Harper Technology Center will do the same in computer science. The recently established Jean Cahill Family Scholarship will be awarded to a female student in the Mater Dei Prep Emergency Medical Services & Nursing Institute who will be pursuing a career in nursing.

The Gala’s honorees were Gerry Harper, a member of the Class of 1971, who went on to a distinguished career in law, academia, and politics, and John Cahill, a member of the Class of 1973, who went on to an equally distinguished career in the financial services industry, philanthropy, and continued devotion to his high school as a founder of the Mater Dei Prep Alumni Association.

Joe Rapolla, Chair of the Music and Theater Department at Monmouth University and a 1979 graduate of Mater Dei, provided the entertainment for an evening of music of dance.

Among the evening’s prime sponsors were Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; The Jordan Family Sports Foundation; Airport Plaza Spine & Wellness, and alumni Gerry Harper, Donald Froude, Skip McLaughlin, John Cahill, and Jim and Jane Boman Daly.

The evening began with performances by Sarah Dolan and Cash Zhang from the Mater Dei Prep Seraph Players. Both students were valued members of the Les Miserables cast that won seven Basie Awards in 2018. Sarah Dolan, an All-Shore chorus qualifier, performed a gorgeous rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. Cash Zhang, an Algonquin Rising Star and member of the All-Shore chorus, performed “Silent Noon” composed by Vaughan Williams.

The evening’s speakers included alumnus Jim Shaw, who said grace, followed by Mr. Galante, who spoke of the school’s achievements in the past year.

Mr. MacDonald introduced Gerry Harper, a native and longtime resident of New York City but who acknowledged “growing up” on the Jersey Shore to where, he said, he had returned to help the school that played a formative part of his life. “It is all about the kids and the impact we make on their lives. Seven of my siblings attended Mater Dei Prep and we are forever grateful for the education and foundation that Mater Dei Prep gave us. I am proud that the Board of Trustees has continued offering a world class education to students from different socioeconomic backgrounds in Monmouth County. And I applaud its promotion of women in that endeavor.”

Alumna Cathy Daniels introduced honoree John Cahill and spoke of her admiration for John. “There has never been a time that I have heard John say we can’t do that. John’s love for Mater Dei Prep is alive today and inspires us. We all follow his lead and match his level of determination. Thank you John for all that you have done for Mater Dei Prep.” Mr. Cahill said, “Getting an award for supporting the school I love is extremely rewarding. Our school has a ton to be proud of and grateful for. Our students are wonderful and they are achieving so much. We have the best kids and they make the school so special. Mater Dei Prep is a big family and I am excited to see our family thriving.”

The event was organized by the Seraph Strong Gala Committee comprised of Steven Andersen, Associate Head of School; Jen DeBiase, Associate Director of Development; Charlie Weiss, Marketing Associate; Maria Buzzanco, and Ms. Daniels.

The picture gallery of the 2019 Seraph Strong Gala may be found on the school’s website at under the Discover MDP tab.

Mater Dei Prep is currently enrolling students for the Class of 2023. For more information about the school or to register for the next Open House on Wednesday, March 13th from 6:30 – 8:30 PM, please visit or contact the admissions office at 732.671.9100.


Mater Dei Prep

Mater Dei Prep

538 Church Street, Middletown, NJ 07748
Phone 732-671-9100  Fax 732-671-9214

Mater Dei Prep admits students of any race, color, religion, and national or ethnic origin.
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