FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 2, 2004
Schumer, Hero Cop Steven Mcdonald, Pastor Teach Non-Violent Conflict Resolution To Bronx Hs Students
Senator joins decorated Detective and Christoph Arnold of the Bruderhof Communities at Bronx Catholic School for "Project Breaking the Cycle"event
McDonald - who has been paralyzed from the neck down since being shot in Central Park in 1986 – will share journey through anguish and anger to forgiveness and peace
US Senator Charles E. Schumer, hero NYPD Detective Steven McDonald – who was shot in Central Park in 1986 while questioning three teenagers – and author, Pastor and teen counselor J. Christoph Arnold today taught high school students at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula in the Bronx about the importance of non-violent conflict resolution.
"After all the hurdles Detective McDonald cleared, it's almost impossible to imagine how he had the strength to forgive his attackers - but he did. Detective McDonald offers a monumental life lesson for these teens - his words today could literally change their lives forever," Schumer said. "And from video games to movies to TV to what they see and experience on the street, our young people are inundated by violence and violent images. Pastor Arnold's efforts to teach our young people about non-violent, and forgiveness-based approaches to threats, violence and intimidation is a vital project well rooted in the most laudable elements of Bruderhof values."
"As most people with disabilities would confirm, there can be spiritual advantage resulting from physical disadvantage," Detective McDonald said. "The only thing worse than the bullet in my spine would have been revenge thereafter in my heart. I say this because revenge in my heart would have extended my tragic injury into my soul, affecting my wife, son, and others in a negative way."
Detective Steven McDonald was shot in Central Park in 1986 while questioning three teenagers. He had been married less than a year and his wife was two months pregnant. Since the shooting 18 years ago, McDonald has been paralyzed from the neck down and needed a tracheotomy to breathe. Sitting in his wheelchair, Detective McDonald shared his personal journey through anguish and anger to forgiveness and peace, tellling the students how he forgave his young assailant and corresponded with him.
In December 2003, Steven McDonald was promoted to Detective rank, 1st Grade - the highest level in the NYPD and a step higher than expected. He got a standing ovation as Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced the surprise promotion during a ceremony attended by former Mayor David Dinkins. Commissioner Kelly said McDonald's contribution to the community and his "tremendous courage in overcoming adversity" led to his promotion.
McDonald is devoted to speaking about forgiveness especially at elementary schools and high schools as part of the "Breaking the Cycle" program led by Christoph Arnold, an author, Pastor and teen counselor of the Bruderhof Communities. The Bruderhof is an international religious movement dedicated to community and non-violence. There are several Bruderhof communities in upstate New York.
Arnold is the author of many popular books including Why Forgive?, which features McDonald's and many other similar stories. His books on raising children, forgiveness and reconciliation, sexuality and finding peace have sold over 350,000 copies and have been translated into eighteen languages. Both an award-winning author and outspoken social critic, Arnold has also appeared as a guest on more than 200 talk shows and as a speaker at numerous colleges and high schools. A graduate of Kingston High School, Arnold has lived in Ulster County, New York since 1954. A father of eight and the grandfather of thirty-two, his concern for youth issues is highly personal. He brings depth of experience from his 30 years as a counselor of teens, couples, prison inmates, the terminally ill and their families.
Eight years ago Arnold met Detective McDonald and together they created "Project Breaking the Cycle." Their joint appearance at The Academy of Mount St. Ursula is part of their ongoing partnership for reconciliation that has taken them to schools around the country and the world, including two trips to Northern Ireland. Both Arnold and McDonald were close friends with the late Father Mychal Judge, the Chaplain to the NYC Fire Department who was killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center while administering last rites to a fellow rescue worker. Father Mychal had often shared the stage with them in speaking engagements like today's event.