Alumni

St. Joseph's Prep

Hall of Excellence

Inductees

The Hall of Excellence honors alumni and members of the St. Joseph’s Prep community who have distinguished themselves in the areas of “A.M.D.G.”:

Athletics
Individual alumni, coaches, or teams who have excelled during or after their time at St. Joseph’s Prep.

Mission
Alumni who have lived a life of service and have demonstrated their personal commitment to being a man for and with others.

Distinction
Alumni who have excelled in their field of endeavor.

Generational Impact
Alumni, Faculty, or Staff who have left a lasting impact on the life of St. Joseph’s Prep.

Athletics

2023 (Inaugural Class)

Mr. Curt Cockenberg

Class of 1971

Curtis Cockenberg, known affectionately to Prep alumni as Coach Curt, is a coach who has had a generational impact within the Prep community for close to 50 years. He has coached Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track each year going back to the 1970s, such that he is approaching 50 seasons of coaching. To put this in perspective, this means approximately 150 different teams with different training regimens, assistant coaches, and training strategies. He has won Championships at the League and State levels, and his athletes have garnered league, district, state, and national titles. He has been recognized among Track coaches with awards on many levels, most notably with a distinguished National Penn Relays Coaching Award and 2020 PA Coach of the Year. In fact, he has coached every record setter in the Prep XC and Track record board. Known for his loyalty to the Prep and humility in manner, Coach Curt has helped out with Admissions, the Theater program, the African-American Alumni Association, Prep Summer Programs, and Alumni events. Most amazingly, he has brought State titles and vast success without the Track teams ever having their own Track to train on.

Mr. Phil Martelli

Class of 1972

Phil Martelli is synonymous with Philadelphia basketball, after spending four decades at Saint Joseph’s University. He spent 24 years as the head coach of the Hawks, leading them to seven NCAA tournaments and six NIT appearances and helping many players play professionally both in the NBA and overseas. His best year at the helm of the Hawks came in 2003-04, when SJU posted an undefeated regular season and a number one seed in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the Elite Eight.

As a player at the Prep, Martelli was part of the 1970-71 team that won the Catholic League title under Eddie Burke ’63. It was the Prep’s last PCL title until 2003. Martelli then went on to play at Widener University and coach in the PCL before going to Saint Joseph’s.

Martelli’s brother Stephen is from the Class of 1979 and his two sons also attended the Prep: Phil ‘99 and Jimmy ’00. He is currently the associate head coach at the University of Michigan, serving as a key part of Juwan Howard’s staff.

1977 Championship Football Team

The 1977 team won the Prep’s first city football championship in nearly 40 years, when the City Championship was still a major event in Philadelphia as the best team in the PCL played the best team in the Philadelphia Public League, typically at Veterans Stadium. The Prep had a perfect regular season (PCL plus playoffs), and earned Southern Division MVP (Joe Rabuck) and Division Coach of the Year (Gamp Pellegrini) plus John Gannon was named first team all Catholic on offense and defense. The win also led to the students leaving school and marching down Broad Street to City Hall, chanting to meet the Mayor who left his office and met with the students in the City Hall Courtyard.

Mr. Rich Gannon

Class of 1983

One of the best pros to come out of St. Joseph’s Prep, Gannon was a first-team, all-Catholic QB and Punter. He then went to the University of Delaware, where he set 21 school records, including total offense (7,432 yards), passing yards (5,927), pass attempts (845), and completions (462) and was the only Delaware player at the time to achieve at least 2,000 yards of offense three years in a row.

Drafted by the New England Patriots as a WR, Gannon was traded to the Minnesota Vikings because he wanted to play quarterback. After several years as a backup, he was named the starter. Later, he joined the Oakland Raiders and led the team to the Super Bowl in an NFL MVP season.

Mr. Pete Cipollone

Class of 1989

Pete Cipollone is one of the most acclaimed Prep graduates of all time. After serving as a coxswain at the Prep and University of California at Berkeley, he joined the men's national team, finishing his elite coxing career with an Olympic gold medal at the 2004 games. Pete's career has been, by all accounts, incredibly successful. He was a member of fourteen national teams, coxing his crews to four world championship golds, two silvers and a bronze. In 2004, at the Athens Olympics, his crew set the world and Olympic record in the men's eight, winning Olympic gold. Pete lives in San Francisco and runs InstaViser, a global sports coaching platform that delivers the world's best coaching to athletes of all levels.

Mission

2023 (Inaugural Class)

Rev. John Deeney, S.J.

Class of 1939

Rev. Deeney is known as the “Apostle of the Ho’s” for his 60+ year vocation to Ho Tribal People in India. During his time, lived among the Ho People and his connection there was such that he later became known as “The Apostle of the Ho’s.”

In 1939, during his senior year at the Prep, Fr. Deeney made a nine-day Novena of Grace to St. Francis Xavier, where he “received a clear message from the Holy Spirit” that he should devote his life to being a man for others, by becoming a Jesuit. Ten years later, in 1949, he decided to fully devote his remaining 61 years of his life to his vocation, even renouncing his US citizenship to become a member of the Ho Tribe.

One of Fr. Deeney’s first tasks in India was as Headmaster of St. Xavier’s High School. Concurrently, he continued his work in the parishes getting to know the Ho people and their culture. He determined that conversion to Catholicism would only be possible by Inculturation.

Even though the Ho’s numbered close to a million people when John arrived, you would be hard pressed to find a Ho Catholic. The Hos felt if they were to become Christians in any strong number, they would lose their culture.

In an effort to break down this perceived wall and to allow the people to retain their identity while becoming Christians, John incorporated many of their strong beliefs into the teachings of the Catholic religion. He also helped to build two parochial schools that are run by the Jesuits and have been filled to capacity from the day that they opened. Through these efforts, the Ho Catholic population today is numbered in the thousands with a few hundred Jesuits to tend to their needs.

The Ho People came to realize through John’s teachings that they could become a Catholic and still be Ho. John proved this to them by requesting and becoming an Indian citizen so that he could identify more so with his people.

John got approval for Mass to be conducted in the native language. He also authored a Ho-English dictionary, grammar, mass booklet, hymnal, a cultural study, Old Testament and New Testament, along with other publications, all in the Ho language. The subsequent Jesuits utilize all these tools at The John Deeney Center for Ho Studies.

He was buried in India in the Parish yard, and his grave has become Shrine-like with people praying to him have experienced healings. When John died in January 2010, his burial mass was said in a schoolyard because there was no church large enough locally to hold the over two thousand mourners who attended the funeral and the 120 priests who concelebrated the mass.

Rev. Edward Bradley, S.J.

Class of 1946

When Fr. Bradley was a young boy, his father, a Philadelphia police officer, was killed in the line of duty. An only child, Fr. Bradley left the Society of Jesus because his widowed mother needed him. Instead, he entered Saint Joseph's College and Jefferson Medical College. He served as a flight surgeon in the US Navy and completed fellowships in cardiology at the University of Goteborg in Sweden and in cardiovascular research at the University of Southern California. He later joined the faculty at USC.

When Dr. Bradley learned of a Jesuit priest in Vietnam in dire need of medical supplies and assistance, he gathered equipment and took it to two Vietnamese villages. He opened clinics there, focusing on tuberculosis and polio cases. He appealed to President Nixon for Supplies and personnel and was able to inoculate 8,000 villagers, virtually eradicating the disease in those areas.

In 1974, Dr. Bradley resigned from USC to enter the Society of Jesus and was ordained in June 1979. Fr. Bradley opened a medical practice in North Philadelphia to care for the poor and rejoined the Jefferson faculty as a clinical associate professor of medicine, while also serving at Old Saint Joseph's Church in Philadelphia. In 1987, he began serving as counselor to faculty and students at Jefferson, as well as the hospital's ethicist, positions he held until 2010.

Jefferson's graduating class in 1991 presented his portrait to the University. He was the recipient of the Clarence E. Shaffrey SJ Award from the Medical Alumni of St. Joseph's University in 1999. In 2008, St. Joseph's University Medical Alumni Chapter established the Edward C. Bradley, SJ, M.D. '51 Medical Alumni Award. Fr. Bradley died in 2011 at the age of 82.

Rev. Rob Currie, S.J.

Class of 1958

Entering the Society of Jesus in 1958 as a novice after graduating from the Prep, Rob quickly ascertained his place in the world as a voice for the marginalized people to whom he committed his Jesuit ministry. Since becoming a Jesuit, Fr. Currie has spent over 64 years of his life serving the marginalized. His ministry has shone brilliantly beginning with downtrodden minorities in Chicago, followed by ministry to the Adivasi aborigines in Chaibasa India, to the mountain communities of West Virginia, and his current flock, campesinos in the village of Arenal in Nicaragua. The lives of all he served became better for having had Fr. Currie ministering to them.

He fought against those who took advantage of the poor: city slum lords, huge corporations, powerful government officials, autocrats and dictators and, at times, even the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church.
For demanding human rights for the Adivasi, who were considered lower than the lowest caste in India, Fr. Currie was summarily expelled from that country by its prime minister, Indira Gandhi, in July of 1975.

In 1987, Fr. Currie found a home in Nicaragua after the fall of the Somoza dictatorship. In the ferment of the Sandinista agenda, he started a “Solidarity” movement (“GRUDESA”), in Arenal Nicaragua that empowered women to overcome a sad cultural legacy of male domination and machismo.

Through his efforts, Fr. Currie has witnessed over 50 of Arenal’s villagers graduate from the University in Managua. Many of these graduates returned to the village to further serve the campesinos in roles such as nurses and teachers, often challenging the Ortega regime, after Ortega began his autocratic rule with his re-election in 2006. In fact, all the different works of GRUDESA are coordinated by these "returning" university graduates.

An award has been endowed in his honor by his Prep ’58 classmates. The “Rob Currie Men for Others” award is given annually to a deserving Prep junior.

Rev. George Bur, S.J.

Class of 1959

Fr. Bur entered the Jesuit Novitiate in 1959, after his graduation from the Prep. He performed his priestly duties in poor neighborhoods, and, eventually, became the founding President of the Gesu school. He served as President of the Prep from 2008 to 2015 before his appointment as Rector of the Jesuit community at Wernersville. In 2022, he returned to the Prep temporarily as a chaplain and is now working at Saint Joseph’s University.

Early in his career, Fr. Bur worked to fight for racial and social justice when infamous “redlining” was happening in former white neighborhoods that refused to allow blacks to purchase homes. Fr. Bur worked with community leaders against the practice and helped many middle class black families find housing.

When Fr. Bur was assigned to the Gesu Parish, the parish’s neighborhood was experiencing very difficult challenges and the church was eventually closed and merged with St. Malachy’s. However, Fr. Bur was clear in wanting to keep Catholic education thriving in North Philadelphia. Working with Sr. Ellen from the IHM Sisters, Fr. Bur founded the Gesu School, the now thriving jewel located in the old St. Joseph’s Prep building at 17th and Thompson Streets.

After the Gesu, Fr. Bur went briefly to Saint Joseph’s University, where he worked to enhance a program that makes the University accessible to students from underprivileged financial backgrounds. He then accepted the opportunity to return to his alma mater and became President of the Prep.

A humble, spiritual, faith-filled individual who was totally dedicated in his service and priestly duties, Fr. Bur is a true servant leader. Kindness permeates the air around him and his ministry is rooted in a love for young people and service. Fr. Bur once said that God had blessed him "with service in poor neighborhoods.” It is the Prep which has been blessed by his life of humble service.

Distinction

2023 (Inaugural Class)

Mr. John McShain

Class of 1918

John McShain was a highly successful American building contractor, who was known as "The Man Who Built Washington." Some of the landmark structures he built included The Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the renovation of the White House and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York. More locally, Saint Joseph’s University’s iconic Barbelin Hall was created by McShain and there is a dormitory named in his honor at SJU. The former Prep library, now the Howley Learning Commons, was named in his honor and a plaque is prominently displayed in the new spaces.

Through the John McShain Charities, he was a major benefactor to Catholic institutions including the Prep, SJU, La Salle University, Wheeling Jesuit University, Georgetown University, Rosemont College, and Catholic University, among others.

In 1956, the McShain's acquired Kenmare House together with 25,000 acres in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland. The house was renamed Killarney House. Upon the deaths of the McShain's the property was transferred to the Irish Government and incorporated into the Killarney National Park System.

At the centennial of St. Joseph’s Prep in 1951, McShain was named the outstanding Prep graduate of that era.

Hon. Stephen McEwen

Class of 1950

Stephen McEwen, former District Attorney of Delaware County and retired Appellate Court Judge, is considered one of the most impactful jurists in the Delaware Valley during a nearly 50+ year legal career.

After admission to the Bar, Judge McEwen began his legal career in practice with his father at the Delaware County firm of McEwen and McEwen. He was later twice elected (1967 and 1971) as the District Attorney of Delaware County. After serving his two full terms, he left government service and worked for six years as a litigation partner in the Philadelphia firm of Liebert, Short, Fitzpatrick, and Lavin. In 1981, following the recommendation of the Commonwealth’s Appellate Court Nominating Commission, he was appointed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court by Governor Dick Thornburgh. Later that same year, he was elected to a ten-year term on that Court and was reelected to additional ten-year terms in 1991 and 2001. He served on the Superior Court for over thirty years, five years as President Judge and 10 additional years as President Judge Emeritus. At various times, Judge McEwen also served on the Pennsylvania Judicial Inquiry and Review Board, as well as on the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline.

Following his retirement from the Superior Court in 2012, Judge McEwen handled hundreds of cases as a Court Conciliator for the Civil Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas until his retirement in early 2018. Judge McEwen was also involved in legal affairs internationally. With the approval of the U.S. Department of State, commencing in 2005, Judge McEwen served as Honorary Consul to the Republic of Bulgaria. In that role, he conferred with the Foreign Minister and Deputy Ministers of various Republic of Bulgaria Cabinet Agencies. He lectured in Bulgaria on several occasions on topics ranging from judicial ethics to international development.

The honors, accolades and awards garnered by Judge McEwen over the years were quite numerous, and included Distinguished Service Awards from several Bar Associations, Universities and Civic and Fraternal Organizations. Most recently, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal, one of only eleven Judges so honored in that Organization’s 38-year history. He had been a member of the Council since 1996, serving as its president in 2003 and 2004.

Dr. Peter Mattei

Class of 1982

Dr. Mattei is one of the most well-respected doctors in the world and makes his clinical home at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). His gentle demeanor and brilliant intellect along with his groundbreaking career as a pediatric surgeon are a testament to his education, including his time at St. Joseph’s Prep. His positive impact on humanity is humbling.

Born in South Philadelphia, Dr. Mattei graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, completed his general surgical residency and research fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and trained in pediatric surgery at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. He has developed special research interests and clinical expertise in several areas, including pediatric surgical oncology and inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr. Mattei was honored to be named the Morgan Family Endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery, giving him the funding necessary to continue his research into best practices and treatments in his field. He is CHOP’s Department of Surgery liaison with the Children's Oncology Group and participates in national clinical trials of treatment options for children with cancer. He is also part of the CHOP Solid Tumor Program, where he helps formulate therapeutic plans for children with solid tumors who need surgery in addition to chemotherapy and radiation.

Additionally, Dr. Mattei serves as Vice Chair for Quality, Safety and Outcomes for the Department of Surgery and Director of the Surgical Quality Improvement Program. He is active in designing, overseeing, and conducting quality improvement projects at CHOP. Dr. Mattei is also a professor of Surgery in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been invited to speak as a clinical thought leader at numerous conferences and lectures at other institutions to discuss his expertise in surgical oncology, surgery for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and other aspects of pediatric surgery. In addition, he is the creator and editor of Fundamentals of Pediatric Surgery, a major textbook in the field. The third edition was published this year.

Generational Impact

2023 (Inaugural Class)

Dr. Earl Hart

Class of 1939

No one can match the longevity of Dr. Hart; his 52 years in the classroom is the longest tenure in school history. But that only scratches the surface of the legacy made by this kind, gentle soul at the school he loved so much. His knowledge of the subject was top-notch; his care for the students he taught was unsurpassed; and his ability to convey the material made him a Master Teacher.

Dr. Hart arrived at his alma mater after graduating from college. He then became a legend and mainstay of the faculty. He was an innovator: first by starting the Advanced Placement Math program at the Prep and then by bringing computers to the hallowed halls of 17th and Girard, well before any other high school had access. Since he taught a class at Saint Joseph’s University at night, he would bring punch cards that his students created to Hawk Hill and have them run there to be brought back the next day. It is right that the Computer Lab on the third floor of Villiger Hall is named in his honor and that a painting of him hangs on the wall.

Mr. Nicholas Kueny

Class of 1943

As a 40+ year teacher at the Prep, Nick Kueny was known simply as “Mister,” a term that showed the respect his students had for him but also the love they felt for the man. For the uniformed, he may have been seen as a tough, stern math teacher; for those who knew him, they saw the man who loved his students and would do whatever he could to teach them.

Though he taught many levels, Mister was mostly an Algebra I teacher, choosing to help set a foundation that all students could build upon. His legendary “SPCA” class (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Algebra) helped generations of Prep students find their footing. His frequent use of nicknames (maybe “nick” names) for students showed that love even further.

In addition, Mister served for many years as the school’s athletic trainer. Even in his later years, after leaving the trainer role, Mister rarely missed a Prep sporting event. His blue Chevy van used to carry many students to their home in Northeast Philly.

After retiring, Mister's service to others didn't end. He spent the final 20 years of his life living in Ocean City, NJ where he volunteered at Shore Memorial Hospital. There, he would work the help desk and make wooden truck wagons for pediatric patients. Despite the booming voice, imposing build and intolerance for ignorance, he was a warm and loving man who embodied the Prep ideal of being a man for and with others.

Mr. Bernard “Gus” Kueny

Class of 1953

During some of the most impactful times in St. Joseph’s Prep history, the school was guided by the leadership of Bernard “Gus” Kueny and is all the better for it. During a 40-plus year career, Gus was an incredibly positive influence on the school he loved.

He wore many hats at the Prep: teacher, administrator, coach, fundraiser, coach, father, and ambassador. He was instrumental in the rebuilding of the school after a devastating fire destroyed 2/3 of the campus; his knowledge of the great building helped firefighters extinguish the flames and then he was a key member of the team that rebuilt the campus in North Philadelphia. In addition, under his direction the school was able to expand its campus, adding the Kelly Fieldhouse, the Gillin Boathouse, and the Quinn Wrestling Gym. In the 1980s, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Church of the Gesu, Kueny helped to fund the restoration of the exterior of the building to its former glory.

Rev. J. Vincent Taggart, S.J.

For a generation of Prep students, Fr. Taggart is the first person they met from the Prep. His legendary grade school visits are still well-remembered by those who experienced them. Beyond that, he also taught five classes of World History, holding court in Room 105, teaching freshmen about history but also about life lessons. He was the beloved moderator of the Football and Crew teams, and his riverside masses are still some of the most prayerful moments that many have had.

Fr. Taggart was also a major figure in the Prep’s neighborhood. He was active with connecting the school with young people in the area, bringing food to homes and also opening up the Prep for activities and games. In addition, he ran the weekly Pre-Prep program that hosted young boys and girls from the neighborhood to be tutored by Prep students.

One alumnus said that Fr. Taggart “was one of the kindest, gentlest, and most loving men I've ever met. He is St. Joseph's Prep.”

The Hall of Excellence honors alumni and members of the St. Joseph’s Prep community who have distinguished themselves in the areas of “A.M.D.G.”:

Athletics
Individual alumni, coaches, or teams who have excelled during or after their time at St. Joseph’s Prep.

Mission
Alumni who have lived a life of service and have demonstrated their personal commitment to being a man for and with others.

Distinction
Alumni who have excelled in their field of endeavor.

Generational Impact
Alumni, Faculty, or Staff who have left a lasting impact on the life of St. Joseph’s Prep.