Canon Dr. James M. Rosenthal II was awarded an honorary doctorate in Canon Law from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, on June 2, in recognition of his long-standing and venerable service to the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Prior to becoming director of communications for the Anglican Communion in 1993, Rosenthal was communications officer for the Diocese of Chicago, a position he held during Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold's 11-year term as Bishop of Chicago.
Phoebe Griswold, wife of Bishop Griswold and founding member of Anglican Women's Empowerment, read the citation at the commencement ceremony -- held at St. Luke’s Church in Evanston -- during which she recognized Rosenthal as "a model of graciousness and goodwill" who has served the Church under the most adverse of circumstances.
"No one has expended greater effort during the last few decades in drawing the disparate provinces of the Anglican Communion together," Griswold said. "He has been effective not only in a public way, but through the exercise of graceful quiet diplomacy behind the scenes."
Other distinguished guests at the ceremony -- during which more than 40 degrees were conferred -- included Bishop William D. Persell and Retired Bishop James Winchester Montgomery of Chicago, Bishops George Councell of New Jersey and Wendell Gibbs of Michigan.
Surrounded by friends at a celebration dinner on June 1, Rosenthal said the privilege could not have come at a better time, citing a fragile Anglican Communion, but one that is still very much together.
"The sense of Communion that we share means that the people who are voiceless have a voice," he said, noting the Diocese of Chicago's companion diocese relationship with the Diocese of Renk in Sudan. "When we see people go without food for four days, we wonder why we argue about certain things."
Councell, retiring from Seabury-Western's board of trustees after nine years, said that he was greatly honored by Rosenthal's presence and thankful for the opportunity to affirm his work.
"I would really like to nominate him as an instrument of unity in the Anglican Communion," he said.