A Word from the Editor

How I got here & why I stayed

I began subscribing to Commonweal and submitted my first article to the magazine as a student at Yale Divinity School twenty-three years ago. That piece was about the official "visit" of two or three Catholic bishops to the somewhat anomalous contingent of Catholic students there. Naturally, the article was rejected. But I did get a two-page letter from Peter Steinfels, then executive editor, discussing the piece and encouraging me to submit other articles. Looking back after years of sifting thousands of submissions to this magazine, I can’t imagine how Peter found the time to write such a gracious letter, but it did the trick. I was hooked. After some high school teaching and a stint as a newspaper editorial writer, I finally weaseled my way onto the Commonweal staff.

Despite my two years at Yale and my debt to outstanding teachers there such as biblical scholar Luke Timothy Johnson and the liturgist Aidan Kavanagh O.S.B., my Catholic intellect has largely been formed in the daily business of putting out this magazine. I was in junior high school during the Second Vatican Council, and am a beneficiary of neither parochial school nor Catholic higher education. In fact, I will be the first editor at the top of the masthead in thirty-six years who has not been disciplined in the classroom by Chicago nuns or educated by the Jesuits at that city’s principal Catholic university. Before I came to work at Commonweal...

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About the Author

Paul Baumann is the editor of Commonweal.