Mater Dei Prep Holds Annual Seraph Strong Gala

On Saturday, Feb. 10, Mater Dei Prep held its signature fundraising event, the Seraph Strong Gala, at The Shadowbrook in Shrewsbury. The sold-out event honored Dr. John Checton (MD ’70), Director of Cardiology at Monmouth Medical Center, and Mr. Kevin Cummings, CEO and President of Investors Bancorp, for their commitment to Catholic education and to Mater Dei Prep. The evening included live entertainment by The Trend, a VIP extended cocktail hour, and an expansive tricky-tray and silent auction.

Mr. Donald Galante, President of Mater Dei Prep, welcomed the attendees and recognized Maria Buzzanco (P ’13 & P ’16), Fundraising Chair; Steven Andersen, Associate Head of School; Jen DeBiase (P ’20), Associate Director of Development; and Gala committee members Debra Caristi (P ’18) , Karen Curley (P ’16), Cathy Daniels (MD ’79), and Elizabeth Wulfhorst (P ’16) for making the night a great success.  President Galante also introduced distinguished guests Stephanie Murray, Mayor of Middletown; Kevin Settembrino, Deputy Mayor of Middletown; Sue Kiley (MD ’72), Mayor of Hazlet; Serena DiMaso, Assemblywoman; and Senator Declan O’Scanlon to the Seraph community.

Mr. Jim Shaw (MD ’76 P’10 &’13), Mater Dei Prep Board of Trustees, blessed the meal, asking everyone in attendance to thank Christ our Savior for the many blessings granted to Mater Dei Prep.

Mr. Mike Colman (MD ’72) then introduced honoree Mr. Kevin Cummings and spoke of his gracious generosity to Mater Dei Prep.

As president and CEO of Investors Bank, Mr. Kevin Cummings’ connection to Mater Dei Prep has been instrumental to Mater Dei Prep’s stability and growth. His commitment to Mater Dei Prep’s mission has supported efforts on many levels, from transportation for students to the renovation of the new math and technology lab. Prior to joining Investors Bank, Mr. Cummings had a 26-year career with KPMG LLP, where he became a CPA and partner. He was an audit partner in the Financial Services practice in the New York office and lead partner on a major commercial banking client.

Mr. Cummings was presented the Seraph Excellence in Leadership Award by Randy MacDonald (MD ’74 P’97), Chairman of the Mater Dei Prep Board of Trustees.

Mr. Kevin Cummings highlighted the difference a catholic school education has made in his life and the importance Mater Dei Prep plays in the lives’ of students today. He stressed the schools’ focus on four core values – faith, family, community and service, and the critical relevance of those values in preparing tomorrow’s leaders.

Following the Seraph Excellence in Leadership Award presentation, Dr. Joe Buzzanco (MD ’78 P’13 & ‘16) introduced honoree Dr. John Checton.

During his tenure at Monmouth Medical Center, Dr. Checton has held numerous leadership roles, including director of both its noninvasive cardiac and cardiac catheterization laboratories, and served as section chief of the Department of Cardiology for more than 30 years. Dr. Checton is board certified in internal medicine, and has subspecialty certifications in cardiovascular disease and critical care medicine. He is counted among less than 5,000 U.S. physicians skilled and board certified in nuclear cardiology and cardiovascular computed tomography. A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, Dr. Checton is recognized as one of the region’s leading cardiologists.

Dr. John Checton was presented the Frank Outwater Lifetime Achievement Award by Guido Weikert, Frank Outwater’s son-in-law. This award identifies those selfless individuals who have worked behind the scenes, without expecting recognition, to ensure members of our community are helped to overcome obstacles.

“Mater Dei is family to me. It is a family that cares for you as an individual, a family that shapes your character, your scholarship, and your humanity. It is a place where students share in learning regardless of race, language or religion. That is why we are here tonight, because we love the mission of Mater Dei enough to care for her future. To train and support future Seraphs,” said Dr. Checton.

To conclude the speeches, President Don Galante, outlined the exciting enhancements at Mater Dei Prep.  

President Galante announced that Mater Dei Prep has created four new academic programs – the Global Leaders Institute, Information Technology Institute, Performing Arts Institute and the Emergency Medical Services and Nursing Institute – designed to teach students the skills needed to excel in today’s diverse, technology-based fields. These classes will be open to all current Seraph students and prospective students entering the Class of 2022.

Mr. Galante also thanked Mr. Don Froude (MD ’74) and Mr. Skip McLaughlin (MD ’74) for their generous gifts to renovate the science classrooms.  The Donald Froude & Edwin “Skip” McLaughlin Science Center is scheduled to open in the 2018-2019 school year.  The extensive renovations will transform the existing labs into cutting-edge learning environments for chemistry and biology.

"Mater Dei Prep is very grateful that these 1974 classmates have committed to supporting the creation of our new science center. Having state-of-the-art facilities significantly enhances the college prep curriculum for Mater Dei Prep students,” Galante said. 

The picture gallery of the 2018 Seraph Strong Gala can be found on the school’s website at under the Discover MDP tab.

Mater Dei Prep is currently enrolling students for the class of 2022. For more information about the school or to schedule a tour, 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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