His legacy of compassion will live on

AS THE 25TH anniversary of his Central Park shooting neared, Steven McDonald greeted a visitor outside his Long Island home.
The quadriplegic cop, sitting in his wheelchair, explained how he liked to feel the summer sun on his face -- one of the few physical pleasures left to enjoy after three bullets left him unable to feel anything from the neck down. The warming rays, he believed, were like so many things in his life: a gift from above.
"I'm doing OK," McDonald declared. Just two weeks earlier, the heroic officer survived a potentially lethal blood infection that left him hospitalized and his devoted wife, Patti Ann, dreading the future. But he was feeling better on this July morning, and eager to speak with a reporter about his life's work for the past quarter century -- spreading a message of love and forgiveness spawned from an afternoon of cruelty.
Steven McDonald, who lost so much, never lost his voice.
"Twenty-five years later, I -- believe me, I would have loved to have walked," McDonald acknowledged. "There were many times I would have loved to hold Patti Ann in my arms, or have a catch with (son) Conor. But I believe there is something great waiting ahead of me."
Even then, 5½ years before his death, McDonald had already created a legacy of greatness. He never succumbed to bitterness or anger, relying on his deep and abiding Catholic faith to carry him through.
"I don't know what to make of it," McDonald said at the family kitchen table. "It's the way God operates, and it's all a mystery. I'm very blessed that I'm still here."
McDonald was by now out of the white-hot spotlight that followed him in the years immediately after the shooting, but his one-man crusade for a better world continued outside the limelight. The attention meant nothing to McDonald, a bona fide prophet of peace. By the end of his life, he spoke frequently to audiences born long after the shooting, groups who knew nothing about his amazing life until McDonald started to speak.
The Irish-American son of a cop emerged from it all with his sense of humor intact. He recounted how the kids who heard him speak at countless assemblies in endless school gyms inevitably asked the same question: If you could have done anything differently, what would you have done?
"And," he said with a smile, "I always say, `Duck.' "
Viewings for Detective Steven McDonald will be held Wednesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and then 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Agnes' Parish Center, 99 North Village Ave., Rockville Centre, L.l.
A funeral Mass for McDonald will be held at St. Patrick's Cathedral, on Fifth Ave. in Midtown, at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Courrier international
La Croix
La Vanguardia
Le Figaro
Le Monde
Le Parisien
Les Echos
NY Daily News
Sciences et Avenir