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Christ is Risen! The Easter Pillar Post!

Happy Easter Everybody!

Christ is risen!

Today is Tuesday of the Octave of Easter, and you’re reading The Tuesday Pillar Post.

Andrea da Firenze, Santa Maria Novella, Florence, 1366. Credit: Saliko/wikimedia. CC BY SA 2.5

This will be kind of a light newsletter, because we’re celebrating the Octave of Easter in The Pillar’s newsroom. 

For myself, I spent a good amount of time on Easter  Monday messing around with two of my kids exploring a gulch near our house — trying to catch minnows, and splashing after turtles. My son even found a discarded quarter-pint bottle running in the stream, which he promptly decided was treasure, and suitable for the construction of a mini-aquarium filled with rocks and river water and bits of flora picked from the environs. 

One man’s trash is a little boy’s aquarium, I always say.

Of course, it was a gift to have some time on a warm April afternoon to go with my wife and children to adoration of the Eucharist, and then to do some mucking about with two of those kids in a fast-flowing spring runnel.

And I realized something important as we headed home: one of the best things about living in the American West, as I do, is that we get to use words like “gulch” without being self-conscious about it. 

While most of America would use the terms “creek,” “brook,” or “stream,” we get to use a cowboy-sounding word — and that tints an afternoon’s adventures with a bit of sepia, and the wide-open possibility that by day’s end we’ll have foiled some crew of outlaws and bandits, and protected the fine ladies and gentleman aboard a stagecoach.

At least that’s the story I spun for my kids before we got ice cream.

For the rest of the week, we in The Pillar’s newsroom will be trying to balance the celebration of Easter with our journalistic apostolate. 

We’re aiming to keep you up-to-date on what you need to know, but we’d also encourage you to spend some time really celebrating the Lord’s resurrection for the whole of the Easter Octave, with the people you love. We’ll be doing the same.

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The news

Today, April 11, marks the 60th anniversary of Pacem in terris, a touchstone encyclical of the papacy of Pope St. John XIII, and, indeed, a touchstone of the Church’s history in the 20th century. 

In sum, whatever you think of Pacem in terris, its significance in the trajectory and conversation of the Church’s life in the 20th century can’t be missed. 

But if you don’t know much about the encyclical, we’ve put together a little guide for you.

Pacem in terris appeared at one of the most dangerous points in the Cold War, the post-Second World War standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union, and their respective allies. 

The encyclical was issued months after the Cuban missile crisis, sparked by the Soviet construction of nuclear missile sites on the island within striking range of the U.S. On Oct. 22, 1962, John F. Kennedy — America’s first Catholic president — announced a naval blockade of Cuba in response. 

In an address to the nation, Kennedy said: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” 

On Oct. 25, John XXIII, who had opened the Second Vatican Council two weeks earlier, addressed the crisis in a radio broadcast.

“We beg all governments not to remain deaf to this cry of humanity,” he said in French, the premiere language of diplomacy. “That they do all that is in their power to save peace. They will thus spare the world from the horrors of a war whose terrifying consequences no one can predict.” 

“That they continue discussions, as this loyal and open behavior has great value as a witness of everyone’s conscience and before history. Promoting, favoring, accepting conversations, at all levels and in any time, is a rule of wisdom and prudence which attracts the blessings of heaven and earth.”

So what did John XXIII have to say to a world gripped in the fear of nuclear war? 

How was the text received? 

And did the encyclical really inspire a symphony?

You bet it did. Listen to it here:

And while you’re listening, read our guide to Pacem in terris, right here.


The archbishop of Milan announced this month an overhaul of seminary formation for the northern Italian archdiocese, in response to dramatically dwindling vocations numbers.

The archdiocese, which boasted some 150 seminarians 10 years ago, today has 78 — and admitted only six seminarians in 2022. 

The archbishop’s plan is to consolidate the spirituality and theology houses or seminarians, to reserve clerical dress until diaconal ordination, and to see seminarians spend at least a year living in “parish houses,” rather than at the seminary — that element of reform seems to be drawn from the “Cardinal Lustiger model” of seminary formation, in which the former archbishop of Paris aimed to form seminarians in small parish-based communities, rather than the prevailing institutional model of living.

Milan’s seminary rector said last week that formation is undergoing a “broad rethink” in Milan, in light of “experiences lived in recent years (including during the pandemic), various perplexities in the face of some steps of the path, [and] opinions that emerged in diverse meetings with priests and laity.”

But will it make a difference? That’s not clear.

You can read more about what’s happening here.

And while you’re reading this, I suspect you’ll have some thoughts about declining vocations in Europe, and across the Church more broadly, and I suspect there will be more than a few online debates about trends in global vocations numbers. I’ll likely skip the debate, but I am glad to be able to provide some numbers to inform the conversation.

So don’t forget these insightful analyses from our archives, brought to you by Brendan Hodge:

Is there a global vocations crisis?

Fact and fiction: Vatican II and the 'vocations crisis'

Here’s a historical piece, and a report that the hard work of historiography:

There were, as you probably know, at least 500 periti, or theological experts, at the Second Vatican Council. 

But until recently there was very little systematic information about who they were, let alone what they did. And then in January, librarian and researcher Sharon Kabel released an open-source periti database, the product of research and hard work spanning hundreds of hours.

Pope St. Paul VI presides over an ingress of the Second Vatican Council. Credit: Lothar Wolleh/wikimedia. CC BY SA 3.0

We asked Sharon Kabel to tell us something about how she did the project — a massive undertaking — and about some of the most interesting things she’s learned.

Read what she told us about the work of documenting periti. It’s the story behind the story that you just don’t want to miss.

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Finally, here’s an Easter Octave story we’re very proud to publish.

It’s the story of an evangelization which begins with a candle.

At St. James Parish in Lakewood, Ohio, a group of parishioners decided that they could evangelize their neighbor by inviting passersby off the street to come inside the church, and to pray or light a candle for someone they love.

Candles are provided, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, a crew of volunteers makes themselves available to explain what’s going on. That’s it. It’s really that simple.

But the project is bearing real and actual fruit. 

Credit: John Sabo.

The Pillar’s correspondent Laura Loker took a deep dive in the “Light for Love” project at St. James Parish, and has a fascinating report about how it’s going.

And here’s the part that strikes me the most: There’s a lot of faith put into the project. If you work in a parish or a diocese — if you’ve been involved in “pastoral planning” — you know there’s often a lot of emphasis placed on follow-up, on the question of how the Church will do secondary outreach with participants in a program, or track and quantify long-term fruits.

But Lina Simms, who’s organized “Light for Love” at St. James, has a different idea. Simms told The Pillar she is at peace leaving up to God what happens after Light for Love events.

We need to become less attached to reaping the harvest,” Simms said. “God will do that in his own time. And I think a lot of times the obedience we’re called to is being okay with not seeing the fruit of what we do.”

I think that’s pretty cool. 

Read the story of this cool evangelization apostolate. And maybe it’s worth asking the Lord whether something like this might work at a parish near you.

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Since we’re working lighter hours this week, and Starting Seven is on a break, I thought I’d mention just a few Catholic stories unfolding in the news, which will be worth watching in the weeks to come:

The Archdiocese of the Military Services announced on Good Friday a conflict between Walter Reed National Military Medical Center — a DC-area military hospital — and the Order of Friars Minor, who have had a contract to provide pastoral care at Walter Reed for two decades.

The AMS announcement was somewhat light on details, but said the government had “issued a ‘cease and desist order’” to the Franciscan, directing them to “cease any religious services at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.”

“The Franciscans’ contract for Catholic Pastoral Care was terminated on March 31, 2023, and awarded to a secular defense contracting firm that cannot fulfill the statement of work in the contract. As a result, adequate pastoral care is not available for service members and veterans in the United States’ largest Defense Health Agency medical center either during Holy Week or beyond. There is one Catholic Army chaplain assigned to Walter Reed Medical Center, but he is in the process of separating from the Army,” the AMS said. 

There were, seemingly, Catholic liturgies at Walter Reed during Holy Week, but it sounds like that is coming to an end.

The Department of Defense has not yet answered questions about why a contract was not renewed with the Franciscans. It would seem likely, or at least possible, that a for-profit company underbid the Franciscans for “pastoral care services,” despite the company’s inability to provide sacramental services to Catholic military patients.

If nothing else, this story, which was widely circulated on social media, points to the diminishing number of Catholic military chaplains, and the consequences of that issue in military installations both abroad and domestically. 

But it’s not clear what will happen next, or why the fracas escalated to a Good Friday statement from the AMS. We’ll see what we can find out.

In Canada, a Ukrainian Catholic priest was arrested last Wednesday — Spy Wednesday — for setting fire to the rectory of another Ukrainian Catholic priest in April of last year

Fr. Theo Machinski — who, I believe, remains a cleric of the Ukrainian Catholic Church —  has been charged with one count of arson. On April 20, 2022, he allegedly poured gasoline in the middle of the night through the mail slot of the rectory of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Ukrainian Catholic Church in Victoria, British Columbia, and then set the home ablaze. 

St. Nicholas’ pastor, Fr. Yuriy Vyshnevskyy, was sleeping in the rectory, along with his wife and three daughters. They all escaped unharmed, but the rectory was gutted by the fire.

Machinski himself, now in jail, was previously the pastor at St. Nicholas — and it seemed the priest had a long conflict at St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, and within the Ukrainian Eparchy of New Westminster. 

There is rumor in the eparchy that before the alleged attempted arson, Machinski had flooded the parish rectory in an act of vandalism, but was not charged for that crime. 

If the priest gets close to trial, we’ll doubtless learn more about this strange case — and his history of conflict in the eparchy. 

In India, Archbishop Mar Joseph Pamplany of the Syro-Malabar Archeparchy of Tellicherry has warned in an Easter message about domestic violence against women in his diocese, and about the harms of both the dowry system in Indian culture, and about the prospect of young women being married in exploitative “love traps,” aimed at acquiring a bride’s family wealth — often without sufficient legal protection.

“Daughters, like sons, have equal rights in their father’s wealth. The woman is not a commodity that should be bought through bargaining at the time of marriage. The community is yet to properly follow the Supreme Court order that daughters have equal rights in their father’s wealth. The women are being neglected both in the diocese and the community,” the archbishop wrote.

“Incidents of domestic violence and the discrimination against girls are vices that upset the godly visions of family life.”

Decrying the dowry system, the archbishop added that many women are “forced to wait [for marriage], until they generate enough wealth to pay dowry … the dowry system not only adversely affects women but also men too. There are nearly 4,000 men over the age of 35 who want to get married but remain single. Some of them say that the marriage proposals they received when they were young did not materialise due to dowry related issues.”


Well, guys, that’s The Tuesday Pillar Post.

Really, have a happy Easter. Keep having a Happy Easter.

Jesus Christ is risen — we have been with him in the desert, we waited with him at Gethsemane, we went with him to Calvary, and we should actually celebrate the empty tomb. 

Thank you for being part of the communion of the Church with us, and the community of The Pillar.

If you can, subscribe and support our work. We depend on it:

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In the meantime, be assured of our prayers, and please pray for us. We need it.

Happy Easter!

In Christ,

JD Flynn
The Pillar

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