As I am sure the readers of Respect Life News know, Detective Steven McDonald of the New York City Police Department died on January 10, 2017 after suffering a massive heart attack. In 1986 Steven was shot while on duty and was left paralyzed from the neck down. After many months of surgery and recovery, he publically forgave his assailant at a press conference. For the rest of his life he proclaimed his message of forgiveness throughout New York City and indeed the entire world. Steven traveled to Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and the Middle East to meet with people to ask them to forgive one another. Detective McDonald also spoke before every graduating class of the New York Police Department, sharing his story and his message. These details of his remarkable life you could find in most of the newspaper or television reports filed after his death.
What you will not read in any newspaper account or see on any television report was Steven’s unwavering commitment to the unborn. Steven attended every large Helper of God’s Precious Infants prayer vigil his busy schedule permitted. Indeed, Steven often came during the week to the abortion facility located at 14 DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn where I sidewalk counsel. His presence was a tremendous witness to the sanctity of all human life, particularly the unborn. At our large prayer vigils I often asked Detective McDonald to lead us in one or two decades of the rosary and the effort he had to expend to pray one Hail Mary was heart rendering to see. His great faith showed though in the difficulties that life had in store for him. It took him a great deal of time to prepare himself to get to Brooklyn or Queens at 7:30AM for Mass on a vigil day from his home in Malverne, New York, but he was always there. He never complained, but rather he was convinced that this was the work that the Lord wanted him to do and did so. Several years ago, there was some confusion over the location of the vigil and Sargent McDonald went to Queens while I was in Brooklyn. He led a vigil from Queens, while I led one from Brooklyn. A few years ago, when the State of New Jersey was considering allowing embryonic stem cell research, Steven went to the statehouse to testify that even if this research would lead to a cure of his paralysis he would refuse such treatment. The bill was defeated.
In 2009, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the Helpers, we presented Steven with an award for his dedication and perseverance. His smile lit up the entire room where the presentation was made. In 2010 Steven was there for the celebration Mass of my Golden Jubilee at the Monastery in Brooklyn. I wish to publically thank all those who helped Steven get to the places he wanted to go, particularly his loving wife Patti Ann and his son Conor. The pro-life movement has lost one of its great champions and I have lost a great friend. May he rest in peace with the Lord.
Msgr. Philip J. Reilly