MALVERNE - A police officer from Malverne who was left paralyzed after being shot in the line of duty will be seeing Pope Francis Friday in New York City.
For Steven McDonald, being in the presence of the pontiff when he meets with the masses in Central Park will have special meaning. In 1986, McDonald - a 29-year-old NYPD detective at the time - was shot by a teenage boy in the park.
"We'll be in my park," McDonald says. "That's where I worked, that's where I was shot."
McDonald credits his strong Catholic faith for his survival, in addition to the strength to forgive the teen who left him paralyzed. He considers the opportunity to see Pope Francis in person to be an honor and blessing.
"He stands in the place of Peter," McDonald says. "He's the vicar of Christ. I believe heaven looks upon him very fondly."
Over the past 30 years, McDonald, his wife Patti and son Conor have met popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He says both pontiffs were warm and friendly, and he expects Pope Francis to be just as inspiring as his predecessors.
McDonald and his family will also be attending Pope Francis' Mass Friday evening at Madison Square Garden.