Thomas Baker

Thomas Baker is the publisher of Commonweal

By this author

dotCommonweal Regular on CNN This Sunday

Our regular dotCommonweal contributor Rita Ferrone will be among the interviewees on a CNN special this weekend, "Pope Francis: A Man of Many Firsts." The schedule at has it set for Sunday at 7:30 PM eastern time. If it doesn't seriously conflict with your football viewing, give it a try.

Commonweal Summer Interns Tell All

Most news stories this summer about interns haven’t been positive, from the NTSB summer intern fired for “overstepping the bounds of his authority” to the obscene rant from New York’s most troubled mayoral campaign about their intern who spilled dirt to the tabloids.

At Commonweal, things were very different. I want to introduce you to Joanna Gardner and Sara Bovat, who were here for all too brief a time this summer as our interns — not only because they did such good work, but in the hope that dotCommonweal readers will let other talented young people know that being here can be a good experience. (Information here about our internship program.)

Joanna, a recent Catholic University graduate, is spending the next year with Amigos de Jesus in Honduras, while Sara is heading back for her senior year at Holy Cross. We wish them the best. Here’s what they had to say about their summer.

Joanna Gardner

As a new intern, you never really know what you’re walking into. You could become immersed in a challenging project, or find yourself doing the proverbial coffee-fetching for three months. Going into an internship with Commonweal, I wasn’t too worried about facing a summer of “sugar or sweetener?” but I was still nervous, intimidated by my admiration of the magazine, as I walked into the office on my first day. Now, at the end of a great summer, the familiarity of the office and the people in it is all the more amazing because of those initial nerves and uncertainty.

Scents of the Faithful

Notre Dame fans can plan their Christmas shopping early: Sports Business Daily reports (story only available to subscribers) that a new Notre Dame-branded fragrance debuts this fall in time for the football season, with pricing estimated at $60 for a 3.4-ounce bottle.

Introducing Dr. Baumann

Never one to seek the limelight, Commonweal's editor Paul Baumann nevertheless found himself there on Saturday, gaudily attired at the graduate commencement exercises at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Stephen Hough's Missa Mirabilis

The English pianist Stephen Hough is hardly unknown on the music scene; The New York Times

Holy Restlessness

In his short but intensely active life, Dietrich Bonhoeffer held only brief appointments that involved regular parish preaching. As with most churches and their preachers, reactions were decidedly mixed. In Barcelona, where Bonhoeffer (only twenty-two at the time) enjoyed some brief popularity in his German-speaking parish, the resident pastor quickly responded by suppressing the advance preaching schedule.

Commonweal's Shiny New Spinoff

Commonweal this week is launching its rather handsome new iPad edition. You can buy single issues or an annual subscription for about the same price as the traditional print flavor.

Coming soon to a pulpit near you?

There hasnt been much comment here about the U.S. bishops recent document on preaching, Preaching the Mystery of Faith, approved at their November 2012 meeting. Since it represents a new direction in the bishops thoughts about the goal of Sunday preaching, I wonder what people think about the changes the bishops have recommended.

The War on Beige

The search for good resources for adult religious formation is not an easy one. There is the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself, of course, authoritative and imposing, but using it as a text in a parish setting is too much like trying to teach people about baseball with the Baseball Encyclopedia instead of taking them to a game. At another extreme, there are colorful four-page lesson handouts from many publishers, with quick, middle-school-level treatments of many Catholic topics, but studiously avoiding anything that might look too much like doctrine or history.

It Wasn’t Cheap

The final days of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1945 make for powerful and painful reading. Imprisoned for two years as a conspirator in a plot against Hitler, Bonhoeffer left Buchenwald packed into a hellish wood-burning van with fifteen other prisoners in a surreal, disorganized drive to an uncertain destination. After a case of mistaken identity almost saved him, his journey suddenly ended at the concentration camp in Flossenbürg, where he was hanged early in the morning of April 9 at the age of thirty-eight.