Mollie Wilson O'Reilly

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.

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Reading with Ramona

When I wrote a post here on April 12 to mark the occasion of Beverly Cleary's 100th birthday, I had already filed the column that has just been published in our Spring Books issue ("Ramona the Real").

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary

The author Beverly Cleary—whose fiction for children introduced the world to Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse, and many other well-loved characters—celebrates her hundredth birthday today. The milestone has been an excuse for me to reread a number of her forty-some books and share a few with my oldest son. I wrote about that for my next column (keep an eye out!), but I did not get a chance there to recommend Cleary’s terrific memoirs.

Holy Week Staff Picks: 'Faith Beyond Resentment'

When I think of what makes something “spiritual” reading, rather than informational or intellectual, I think of the disciples at Emmaus recalling that their hearts were “burning within” them as they listened to Jesus interpret the Scriptures. That passage from Luke came to my mind when I first encountered the theologian James Alison and picked up a copy of his book Faith Beyond Resentment (Crossroad, 2001).

Washing Women's Feet as a Matter of Conscience

There is a bit of a stir online this week over comments made by Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, last month (I know, but the Vatican news cycle is weird that way).

‘Eat the Chard, Say a Hail Mary’

“Compassion” is a word that tends to come up when critics talk about the plays of Stephen Karam. Reviewing his newest play, The Humans, for the New York Times, Charles Isherwood wrote: “Mr.

Obama the Other

Since Barack Obama first ran for president, conservatives have often complained of feeling unable to criticize him without being accused of racism. Obviously not all criticism of Obama is racially motivated. But a lot of it has been, plainly and shamelessly so, and that fact is important to recall as we enter a new presidential campaign marked by overt appeals to racial suspicion and resentment.

Washing Feet: Now All the People of God Are Invited

I woke up this morning to the very welcome news that Pope Francis has revised the Holy Thursday rite to include women as well as men in the ritual of the washing of the feet. Or, as the Vatican Radio headline so wonderfully puts it: "Pope changes Holy Thursday decree to include all people of God."

Care Extended

Pope Francis kicked off the Jubilee Year of Mercy on December 8 with the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s. I started my own observance a week later with the series finale of HBO’s brilliant black comedy Getting On.

Safe and Sorry

A high-school student on his way home, trying to get through the wall of people on the sidewalk, stopped to ask: “What is this line for?” Around me, teens wearing “Diocese of Albany” name tags scoffed. “The pope, duh,” they said to each other. “Don’t people watch the news?”


It can be hard to get my almost-four-year-old son to answer a direct question—like “What happened at school today?” or “Why is your brother crying?” or “How did all this water end up on the floor?”—but when he is in the mood to share, he is full of information. His confident pronouncements are a window into his preschool mind, one I’m glad to have. They make me smile. But they can also make me sweat.