Thursday, January 12, 2017
Detective Steven McDonald, Rest In Peace
While at the parish, I noticed a tall figure approaching from the back in a motorized wheelchair. This man looked familiar as he approached the sanctuary. It was Detective Steven McDonald. McDonald was on the news. I remember seeing him there. While fresh on the job as an NYPD officer, McDonald was shot on July 12, 1986 by and young teenager. This shooting left him quadriplegic. He forgave the shooter, Shavod Jones. McDonald, a faithful Catholic, sought a miracle of his own. His faith brought him to see this mystic. She prayed over him, asked me and others present to join. I was amazed to see that McDonald moved his thigh a bit as he tried to get up, something not possible for a quadriplegic. Paola told him in Italian to have more faith. However, McDonald was visibly nervous. Perhaps he felt he would fall if he attempted to get up. In any event, he did not get up and walk around as Mother Angelica did, but the motion in his "dead" legs was enough to convince those present that God does work signs.
However, the real miracle I saw was McDonald's faith and humility. He was a gentle soul, accepting what happened to him with dignity and grace. In a time where cops are under suspicion, McDonald showed what a true officer should be like. All that know him personally say nothing ill of him because I do not think there was anything ill. The impression he gave me and others showed a very humble and prayerful man. This impression is validated by the actions McDonald performed publicly decades before. In 1987, during his son's baptism, McDonald forgave his shooter saying, "I forgive him and hope that he can find peace and purpose in his life." Moreover, McDonald even sent his shooter stamps and a box of stationery with a not that read, "Let's carry on a dialogue." Shavod did keep a dialog, even calling McDonald and apologizing to him and his family. Shortly after, McDonald even met his shooter's mother and grandmother. All attended a Baptist church for prayer services. Shavod, known on the streets as "Buddha," served nine years in prison. He was released in September 1995 before the Papal Visit of St. John Paul II in October 1995. McDonald and Shavod had hoped to work together against street violence; however, Shavod died of a freak motorcycle accident just three days after he was released from prison.
McDonald was a man of peace. He even went to Northern Ireland and pleaded for peace between Catholics and Protestants there. He spoke on many venues, even Catholics ones, speaking on forgiveness and mercy. As Cardinal Dolan said, "Detective Steven McDonald was an icon of mercy." His funeral Mass will be held at St. Patrick's Cathedral. I feel fortunate to have met him years ago. May he rest in peace.
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