Cardinal Dolan celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the passing of NYPD Det. Steven McDonald.
“Remembrance is a virtue, extolled in the Bible,” said the cardinal in opening remarks at the Jan. 18 Mass. “And we remember with gratitude and reverence Detective Steven McDonald.”
McDonald, 59, died Jan. 10, 2017, four days after suffering a heart attack. On July 12, 1986, he was shot in the line of duty in Central Park and became paralyzed from the neck down.
He forgave his assailant, a 15-year-old boy, and dedicated his life to spreading a message of hope, love, forgiveness, resilience and reconciliation.
Cardinal Dolan acknowledged the presence of McDonald’s family, including his widow, Patti Ann; son, NYPD Lt. Conor McDonald, his wife, Katie and the baby they are expecting. He also welcomed Mayor Eric Adams, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey, and other civic leaders, police officials and officers.
Conor McDonald, in his remarks, recalled the last time he saw his father alive. “It feels like yesterday I was kneeling at his bedside at 5 a.m. while he forced me to say a decade of the Rosary before my morning roll call,” he said with a gentle laugh.
McDonald, who was born six months after the shooting, said his father forgave the boy who shot him “not once, not twice, but daily.”
“From sleepless nights to long, painful days, my father got into his wheelchair and became a living example of sacrifice for this department and this city.”
The cardinal, in his homily, said, “To remember is an essential, unique and virtuous exercise.”
Amid adversity, “how do we go on with the life that God has given us, with courage and dignity?” the cardinal asked.
He pointed to McDonald’s “radiant example.”
“How often would he recount to us,” how after he was shot multiple times and struggled to breathe, to swallow, to move, to live, “he faced the awesome question, ‘Am I going to spend my days groaning, bitter, angry, useless, paralyzed, or will I fight on? And forgive and forge ahead in a life of love and purpose and freedom?’
“You and I remember the answer Steven gave to that question,” the cardinal said. “Healed by Jesus emotionally, spiritually, morally and, through Steven, all of us healed. And his memory still does that, five years later.”