November marks the end of the liturgical year, and the time during which the Church turns our minds toward the Last Things, that is: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. On Friday, November 1, we celebrate All Saints, and honor those whom during life loved Jesus, strove to imitate Him, and practiced His virtues. On the next day, November 2, we commemorate All Souls, and pray for the souls of those now detained in Purgatory.
On September 28, Dan Shetka, a dear, dear friend and board member of St. Michael Broadcasting, dropped dead while helping a friend clean her garage. He was 69 and would have been 70 on November 29. Thoughts of the Last Things were ever on his mind. For example, on Feb. 10, 2016, he texted me: “‘Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return’--- my favorite season is here. Makes one focus on what is really important in life. Blessed Lent.”
On Nov. 1, 2017, he wrote: “Happy All Saints Day… I hope you will experience the depth of joy with the saints in heaven...” On May 7, 2018 “…was there too (at the Rosary procession) looked for you… sorry to have missed you.” On August 11, 2018: “…As you celebrate your birthday on the memorial of St. Clare, these words were spoken by her on her deathbed: ‘Go forth in peace for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear for He who created you has made you holy, has always protected you and loves you as a mother. Blessed be You for having created me.’” On April 19, 2019, he wrote “…by his wounds we are healed. Have a blessed Good Friday… Divine Mercy Novena begins today.” And on April 21, 2019: “HE IS RISEN! RISEN INDEED! HAPPY EASTER!"
Many of Dan’s messages were sent in the middle of the night--- 2-3 a.m. ---prompting me to ask him “What are you doing up at that hour?” He said it was “prayer time,” which made me wonder, “Is he praying matins?” After his funeral Mass, a few words of remembrance given by one of his sisters (he had 12 siblings) provided the answer. He told her, many years ago, that he wanted to become a contemplative, a Trappist monk. But he saw that his aging mother needed help. For the next 30 years he cared for her, cutting wood and feeding the wood furnace that heated her farmhouse, built in 1870, and tried as best he could to still live the contemplative life, praying and fasting.
Though Dan had a degree in education and taught for a while, his passion was organic gardening, and he sold his produce at the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market. He lived simply, and, after the death of his mother in 2014, rented a room in the house of a friend. At Christmas and Easter, he would bake dozens of cookies and sometimes cakes, and either deliver or mail them to his family and friends. Though he had few possessions, he gave generously of what he had.
Last month, we mailed out program guides on Tuesday, September 24 and most people received them on the 26th or 27th. Dan died on Saturday the 28th. On Monday, September 30, the day before his funeral, a check appeared in the St. Michael Broadcasting mailbox for $100.00, from Dan. That was Dan. That was, no doubt, in addition to his prayers for the station. Dan was a living icon of Jesus’ love, and, farmer that he was, planted a seed of that love in each person he met. The words of St. Clare were meant for him: “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road, for He who created you has made you holy.”
St. Michael Broadcasting is trying to help each of us “focus on what is really important in life”: Eternal loving union with the Holy Trinity, and all the others who love God, at the heavenly banquet. We also hope to instill a salutary fear of the most horrible thing that can possibly happen: Separation from God in a place where there is no love, no comfort, no beauty, no hope and no end--- and the knowledge that one has only oneself to blame for being there.
Please help St. Michael Broadcasting bring the Word of Eternal Life to ourselves and others by offering to volunteer, by telling others, by praying for the station and through a financial contribution if possible.