Faith & forgiving

He put bitterness aside and set an example for us of unity, reconciliation

Detective Steven Mc-Donald was an icon of mercy and forgive-ness, a prophet of the dignity of all human life, a radiant symbol of the best of what the New York Police Department represents, aloving husband and father, and a fervent and faithful Catholic.
When he was gravely wounded in the line of duty more than 30 years ago, my predecessor, John Cardinal O'Connor, was one of the first to arrive athis hospital bedside, where he met Patti Ann, his still newlywed bride, a few months pregnant with their first child.
Their first months of marriage, when their life together seemed full of promise and hope, were shattered by the bullets from the gun of a teenag-erin Central Park. Steven would never again walk or breathe on his own, would never again embrace his wife or hold his soon-to-be-born child. It would have been enough to turn anyone bitter, resentful, angry at God and the world.
But not Steven McDonald. Instead, he famously forgave the young man who shot him, and even testified in hisfavor athis parole hearing. He became a strong advocate for peace, and spoke movingly and often on the need to show mercy to others. He gave speeches and led pilgrimages around the world. In fact, he and I were just recent-ly discussing leading a pilgrim-age to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, tobring those who were sick and injured in mind and body, and pray for their healing.
Steven was also a marvelous example ofthe dignity of all human life. Priorto his injury, he was a strong, strapping, young man, a proud police officer, full of energy and vigor. The future held endless possibilities for him. Helostall of thatinan instant. But, atatime when, in the eyes of the world, he might have seemed weak, helpless, suffering, unable to offer anything of value to society, he showed that our worth never restson what we can do, but in who we are, sons and daughters of aloving God whoen dows eachof us with His imageand likeness.
This was all reflected in Steven's remarkable Catholic faith. When I visited him in the hospital this past Sunday, his room looked like St. Patrick's Cathedral, full of people -priests, fellow cops, family members, friends - all praying for him as he lay close to death.
I was reminded of the story he once told me that, whenever he couldn't sleep at night, he would call his local pastor and ask him to unlock their church so he could go pray. After the third such 2 a.m. phone call, the groggy pastor said, "Steven, here's the key. Let yourself in next time."
It was always an inspiration to me to see Steven on Fifth Ave. during the St. Patrick's Day Parade, in his full NYPD uni-form. I was especially grateful that the Police Department recognized that being a good cop meant more than catching crooks and stopping speeders, and that Steven - and now his son, Conor-represented the mostnoble aspects of what being a police officer is all about:a heartand soul, an agent of peace and reconciliation.
Atatime when our collective mood seems to be oneof division, rancor and discord, I pray that all New Yorkers will remember Steven, andthe example of unity and reconciliation hes et for all of us.
And to Patti Ann and Conor, thank you for the love and support yougave Steven, and for sharing him with us. Know that you will have a special place in our prayers as you mourn the loss of this great symbol of New Yorkatits fin est.
METS RELIEVER Jesse Orosco didn't keep the glove that led to his most celebrated moment.
Orosco, who finished off the Red Sox in game 7 of the 1986 World Series by whiffing Marty Barrett, visited NYPD Officer Steven McDonald weeks after winning a ring and gave the major-league Mets fan a piece of history.
Orosco, now 59, said giving up his iconic glove, tossed high above the pitcher's mound that fateful night was no big deal.
"I did what I thought was right. everyone always asked me, `Why did you give away that glove? You could have sold it and made a lot of money.' But it never entered my mind to keep it," Orosco told the Daily News Tuesday by phone in California, where he lives. "I hope it brought some sort of enjoyment for him and his family and did what it was supposed to do," he said. "I certainly send my condolences to the family. That's sad to hear." Christian Red

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