President's Message Jan 2017
I, as well as the Executive Board would once again wish to express our desire for a Healthy and Happy New Year, to our membership, and their families. Belonging to such a wonderful organization where family, friends and church are the basis of our bond, is in itself a Blessing. I had the ability to ask the AOH Band for some assistance for the Parish of Sacred Heart, and while they wanted to assist as they ALWAYS had in the past, this year that have accepted an opportunity to play in Maryland, and they are truly sad that they are unable tp particpate. Mike Tully the Pipe Major, reminded me to inform any member, or member of their family that would like to join the Band, are able to go to the Hall on a Wednesday evening, and learn the Bagpipes or the Drums. It should be noted that the Band lead the Easter Rising Centennial Parade, in Dublin, Ireland on April 24, 2016. That parade marked the 100 year anniversary of the Rising. The Band is also about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. I was honored to have been a member for over 20 years, and can personally state the bond of the band, is equal to the bond of our membership. I would like all members to know that on January 21, 2017 the Joseph Duelk, Jr. Division 1, will hold an organizational meeting of the Jr. Division at the Hall. Therefore, if you have any son’s or grandson’s that wish to join as Charter Members of the Louis Allen, Division 1 – Jr. Ancient Order of Hibernians, please email me at email@example.com and notify me that they will be able to attend, and join the brotherhood. Attached to the newsletter is Jr, application.
This monthly meeting will discuss the coming events of February and March, with our own Brother Past President George Anderson leading the Mid Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade as the Grand Marshal. We look forward to seeing all this coming Friday, the 13th of January at 7:30 PM at the Hall. Please keep the family of Steven McDonald in your prayers, along with all of the Men and Women of Law Enforcement, who protect us each and every day. Friday January 27th is approaching quickly for the Right to Life March in DC. We as a division had discussed this earlier in the year when State Chaplin Father Reid sent out a commitment request to go. I will be attending the division meeting Friday if more info is needed. Below is the schedule for the march from Father Reid. Mass is at 9am at St. Mary Mother of God. 727 5th St NW. We line up at the Grand Army of the Republic monument on Pennsylvania Ave at 7th St. NW. If anyone plans on going to the mass or the breakfast, contact Father Reid with #'s so he can let the DC brothers know . On a sad note the New York City Police Department lost a wonderful human being who happened to have served the City of New York as a Police Officer. He also happened to be a role model, a hero and a Catholic gentleman.
I am providing his statement and story as he describe the events, in an interview with the New York Daily News: When NYPD Officer Steven McDonald entered Central Park on the afternoon of July 12, 1986, he had no reason to expect anything out of the ordinary. True, there had been a recent string of bicycle thefts and other petty crimes in the area, and he and his partner, Sergeant Peter King, were on the lookout. But that was a routine – all in a day’s work. Then they came across a cluster of suspicious looking teens.
“When they recognized us as cops, they cut and ran. We chased after them, my partner going in one direction and I in another. I caught up with them about thirty yards away. As I did, I said to them, “Fellas, I’m a police officer. I’d like to talk with you.” Then I asked them what their names were and where they lived. Finally, I asked them, “Why are you in the park today?” While questioning, them I noticed a bulge in the pant leg of the youngest boy – it looked like he might have a gun tucked into one of his socks. I bent down to examine it. As I did, I felt someone move over me, and as I looked up, the taller of the three (he turned out to be 15) was pointing a gun at my head. Before I knew what was happening, there was a deafening explosion, the muzzle flashed, and a bullet struck me above my right eye. I remember the reddish-orange flame that jumped from the barrel, the smell of the gunpowder, and the smoke. I fell backward, and the boy shot me a second time, hitting me in the throat. Then, as I lay on the ground, he stood over me and shot me a third time. I was in pain; I was numb; I knew I was dying, and I didn’t want to die. It was terrifying. My partner was yelling into his police radio: “Ten Thirteen Central! Ten Thirteen!” and when I heard that code, I knew I was in a very bad way. Then I closed my eyes…” Steven doesn’t remember what happened next, but when the first officers to respond arrived on the scene, they found Sergeant King sitting on the ground, covered in Steven’s blood, cradling him in his arms, and rocking him back and forth. He was crying. Knowing that every wasted second could be fatal, the men heaved Steven into the back of their RMP and rushed him to the nearest emergency room, at Harlem’s Metropolitan Hospital, twenty blocks away. Immediately EMT’s, nurses, and doctors went to work. For the next forty-eight hours, he hung between life and death. At one point, Steven’s chief surgeon even told the police commissioner, “He’s not going to make it. Call the family. Tell them to come say goodbye.” But then he turned a corner. “They did the impossible: they saved me, but my wounds were devastating. The bullet that struck my throat had hit my spine, and I couldn’t move my arms or legs, or breathe without a ventilator. In less than a second, I had gone from being an active police officer to an incapable crime victim. I was paralyzed from the neck down. When the surgeon came into my room to tell me this, my wife, Patti Ann, was there, and he told her I would need to be institutionalized. We had been married just eight months, and Patti Ann, who was 23 at the time, was three months pregnant. She collapsed to the floor, crying uncontrollably. I cried too, though I was locked in my body, and unable to move or to reach out to her.” Steven spent the next eighteen months in the hospital, first in New York and then in Colorado. It was like learning to live all over again, this time completely dependent on other people. There were endless things to get used to – being fed, bathed, and helped to the bathroom. “Then, about six months after I was shot, Patti Ann gave birth to a baby boy. We named him Conor. To me, Conor’s birth was like a message from God that I should live, and live differently. And it was clear to me that I had to respond to that message. I prayed that I would be changed, that the person I was would be replaced by something new. That prayer was answered with a desire to forgive the young man who shot me. I wanted to free myself of all the negative, destructive emotions that his act of violence had unleashed in me: anger, bitterness, hatred, and other feelings. I needed to free myself of those emotions so that I could love my wife and our child and those around us. Then, shortly after Conor’s birth, we held a press conference. People wanted to know what I was thinking and how I was doing. That’s when Patti Ann told everyone that I had forgiven the young man who tried to kill me.” Steven and his assailant, whose name was Shavod Jones, could not have been more different. Steven was white; Shavod was black. Steven came from the middle-class suburbs of Long Island’s Nassau County; Shavod from a Harlem housing project. Their brief encounter might have ended right there. But Steven wouldn’t let it. Knowing that his attacker had just altered the course of both of their lives, he felt an uncanny connection to him: “Strangely, we became friends. It began with my writing to him. At first, he didn’t answer my letters, but then he wrote back. Then one night a year or two later, he called my home from prison and apologized to my wife, my son, and me. We accepted his apology, and I told him I hoped he and I could work together in the future. I hoped that one day we might travel around the country together sharing how this act of violence had changed both our lives, and how it had given us an understanding of what is most important in life.” Eventually the exchange fizzled out. Then, in late 1995, Shavod was released from prison. Three days later, he was killed in a motorcycle accident. Others might feel Steven’s efforts to reach out to his attacker were wasted, but he himself doesn’t think so: “I was a badge to that kid, a uniform representing the government. I was the system that let landlords charge rent for squalid apartments in broken-down tenements; I was the city agency that fixed up poor neighborhoods and drove the residents out, through gentrification, regardless of whether they were law-abiding solid citizens, or pushers and criminals; I was the Irish cop who showed up at a domestic dispute and left without doing anything, because no law had been broken. To Shavod Jones, I was the enemy. He didn’t see me as a person, as a man with loved ones, as a husband and father-to-be. He’d bought into all the stereotypes of his community: the police are racist, they’ll turn violent, so arm yourself against them. And I couldn’t blame him. Society – his family, the social agencies responsible for him, the people who’d made it impossible for his parents to be together – had failed him way before he had met me in Central Park.” When visiting Steven in his Long Island home (since meeting in 1997, we have become close friends), I am often struck by the extent of his incapacitation. Life in a wheelchair is hard enough for an elderly person to accept, but to be plucked out of an active, fun-loving life in your prime is devastating. Add to that a tracheostomy to breathe through and total dependence on a nurse and other caregivers, and life can seem pretty confining at times. Steven is matter-of fact about this: “There’s nothing easy about being paralyzed. I have not been able to hold my wife in my arms for two decades. Conor is now a young man, and I’ve never been able to have a catch with him. It’s frustrating – difficult – ugly – at times.” So why did he forgive? Again, he himself says it best: “I forgave Shavod because I believe the only thing worse than receiving a bullet in my spine would have been to nurture revenge in my heart. Such an attitude would have extended my injury to my soul, hurting my wife, son, and others even more. It’s bad enough that the physical effects are permanent, but at least I can choose to prevent spiritual injury. Again, I have my ups and downs. Some days, when I am not feeling very well, I can get angry. I get depressed. There have been times when I even felt like killing myself. But I have come to realize that anger is a wasted emotion… Of course, I didn’t forgive Shavod right away. It took time. Things have evolved over fourteen years. I think about it almost every day. But I can say this: I’ve never regretted forgiving him. Rest in Peace Faithful Servant you have done God’s work here on earth, and you shall be rewarded in Heaven. Thank you for your service to our City, State, Nation and our FAITH.”