Steven McDonald: March 1, 1957 – January 10, 2017
Citing remarks by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it’s a permanent attitude.” Steven said, “You’ve got to live forgiveness, every day.”
Steven McDonald was a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman and third generation NYPD police officer. At only 29 years old, with two years on the police force, he was shot three times and paralyzed in the line of duty in Central Park on the afternoon of July 12, 1986 by a 15-year old youth. Unexpectedly surviving those dreadful injuries, Steven lived to became an incredible example of the power of forgiveness and love for millions of people around the world.
Overcoming his disability, Steven regularly met with Presidents and Popes and was heavily sought-after as a speaker about overcoming the cycle of violence with love, respect, and forgiveness. Very active in the cause of reconciliation, he met with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists in Jerusalem and he and Father Mychal Judge (chaplain of the NYFD killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks) made repeated trips to Belfast, leading marches and fostering prayerful dialog between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
Six months after he was shot, his wife Patti Ann gave birth to their son Conor, which he said “was like a message from God that I should live, and live differently.” Soon after, they reported to the press that he had forgiven the shooter for his actions. “I forgave Shavod because I believe the only thing worse than receiving a bullet in my spine would have been to nurture revenge in my heart. Such an attitude would have extended my injury to my soul, hurting my wife, son, and others even more.”
In recognition of his unique strength and determination, the New York Rangers established the annual Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award in his honor for players who demonstrated special grit.
Steven McDonald died at the age of 59 and was given a full police funeral including a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with Cardinal Timothy Dolan the main celebrant, where Police Commissioner O’Neill said, “No one could have predicted that Steven would touch so many people, in New York and around the world.”