Mater Dei Prep to Honor Gerry Harper and John Cahill at Seraph Strong Gala

On Saturday, February 9th, Mater Dei Prep will hold the Seraph Strong Gala, at the newly renovated Sheraton Eatontown Hotel in Eatontown, NJ. The annual Seraph Strong Gala is Mater Dei Prep’s signature event to honor alumni, community leaders and others who support Mater Dei Prep’s mission. As the largest fundraiser of the year, the gala enables Mater Dei Prep to continue its tradition of excellence in education and commitment to Catholic values. This year’s event honors Gerry Harper (MD ’71) and John Cahill (MD ’73).

Gerry Harper was one of seven siblings who attended Mater Dei. He was President of the Student Council and a statewide champion in debate and extemporaneous speaking. He graduated as a Henry Rutgers Scholar with honors from Rutgers College, after which he attended N.Y.U. Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of its Law Review and received the Benjamin Butler Award for Academic Excellence. Following a clerkship on the U.S. D.C. Circuit Court, he joined Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, as a trial lawyer and made a partner in 1986, a position he held until his retirement 30 years later. For years, he was listed as among The Best Lawyers in America for Bet-Your-Company Litigation.

Gerry currently chairs the N.Y. State Bar’s Committee on Ethics, having previously chaired a like committee for the N.Y. County Lawyers. By judicial appointment, he served six years on the committee overseeing lawyer discipline. For three years, he was an Adjunct Professor on Ethics at N.Y.U. Law School. From 1987 until 2010, he was general counsel of the N.Y.S. Democratic Party, a Presidential Elector in 1988, and a member of the DNC Rules Committee in 1996, 2000, and 2004.

In the Spring of 2015, Gerry was asked to help save Mater Dei Prep. With many others, Gerry made Mater Dei Prep a mission for which, he said, failure was not an option. With these many others, including six-figure pro bono help from his firm, he worked to assure the school’s survival and success. He remains a founding member of the Board of Trustees.

Gerry is the proud father of daughters Amanda and Julia.

John Cahill graduated from Georgetown University in 1977 with a degree in government and earned an MBA from Rutgers in 1980. His professional career spans 40 years in the fixed income market, first as a portfolio manager for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and later in sales at financial services powerhouses Shearson American Express, Paine Webber, BNP Paribas and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. Over the years, he recruited and mentored countless individuals in their careers.

John Cahill’s first effort to support his alma mater was inspired by loyalty and friendship. In 1994, as a way to honor the memory of his classmate and brother-in-law Mike Lawless, John, with his lifelong friend Mike Corley, set up a golf outing for a few friends to raise money for a scholarship to help Mater Dei students in Lawless’s name. Initially, the outings were grassroots efforts that culminated with a BBQ in the Cahill backyard. Twenty-four years and $250,000 later, the Mater Dei Prep Golf Outing and Picnic is a popular annual fundraiser that supports students in need.

In 1998, he led the effort to establish the Mater Dei Prep Hall of Fame, a body that has over its 20 years honored five dream teams and over 100 individuals -- graduates, boosters and benefactors -- for athletic prowess, career achievement and service. The 2018 dinner was the most successful with 250 alumni, parents and friends in attendance.

As founder and president of the Mater Dei Prep Alumni Association, John has leant his talents and financial support to many projects, including the track renovation, Save the Seraphs effort, refurbishment of the Frank Outwater Field House, and the Dr. John J. Cahill Scoreboard, dedicated by his family in his father’s honor. Due to his leadership, the alumni association provides steadfast support of all co-curricular programs, athletics and the performing arts. John is a member of Mater Dei’s Board of Trustees and chair of its Development Committee.

In addition to his work for Mater Dei, John served on the Board of Governors for Navesink Country Club and is a former president of the Rumson Fair Haven Pop Warner.

John and his wife Suzann celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary last year. Together they have three boys, James, John and Billy.

The 2019 Seraph Strong Gala features online, silent and gift auctions; cocktails and dinner; and entertainment by Joe Rapolla (MD ’79). With only 350 available seats, this event will sell out quickly. All journal advertisements must be submitted by January 29th. To help honor Gerry Harper and John Cahill for their commitment to Mater Dei Prep, consider attending this year’s event, sponsoring the Seraph Strong Gala or advertising in the gala ad journal. 

For more information about the gala or to sponsor the event or place an advertisement in the journal, please visit or contact Jen DeBiase, Associate Director of Development, at


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Mater Dei Prep

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