Prominent Alum Says Mater Dei Prep Taught Secret to Happy Life

If you are searching for the secret to a happy life, Dr. John Checton – longtime chief of the Department of Cardiology at Monmouth Medical Center – is more than happy to share what he learned as a student many years ago at Mater Dei Prep.

“That’s where I found my spark,” said Dr. Checton, Sea Girt, who is recognized as one of the region’s leading cardiologists. Dr. Checton, who graduated from Mater Dei in 1970, said it was during high school – surrounded by the nurturing Seraph teachers and staff – that he was inspired to stretch his wings and find the spark that has sustained him throughout his life. “What I learned was that working hard and helping others made me happy,” he said. “It was as simple as that.”

That experience, coupled with the faith that was instilled at Mater Dei, has helped keep Dr. Checton grounded both professionally and personally and created a happy life committed to helping others.

“I can honestly say that not a day goes by that I don’t think of Mater Dei,” he said, adding that he has designated the school as his primary philanthropic interest.

“Now I’d like to help share that spark with as many young people as I can,” said Dr. Checton, who lived in Rumson and Fair Haven for 30 years with his wife, Maria, and their four children.

On Feb. 10, Dr. Checton will receive the Frank Outwater Lifetime Achievement Award at Mater Dei’s Seraph Strong Gala. Opportunities are still available for friends and supporters to purchase table sponsorships, express sentiments of appreciation and support in the ad journal for Dr. Checton or register online for tickets for the event. The gala, which will be held at The Shadowbrook at Shrewsbury, 1 Obre Pl, Shrewsbury, NJ will begin at 7 p.m. with a social hour, silent auction and seating promptly at 8 p.m.

“It’s critical that we support Mater Dei’s mission of encouraging young people to fi nd their own spark,” he said. “Today’s Mater Dei family is not much different from the one I knew over 50 years ago, when I was taken under its mighty Seraphim wings.”

Of course, the school didn’t have WIFI back then, Dr. Checton joked, but the basic tenets remain the same: To give students the opportunity to grow to their full potential in a nurturing, academically challenging, faith-based environment and discover the happiness that can come from being in service to others.

“That’s the spark that’s kept me going all these years and why I encourage others to support this very special event.”

To support Dr. Checton, register online for tickets, journal ads or sponsorships, go to: If you need assistance, please feel free to contact Steven Andersen, Associate Head of School, Development and Operations, or Jen DeBiase, Associate Director of Development,

Story By: Amy Byrnes

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