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CURRENT ISSUE:  May 23, 2005VOL. 43, NO. 11Oakland, CA

Former pastor in Fremont
Oakland priest named bishop of Honolulu

More than 50 years after he left his native state of Hawaii, Father Clarence (Larry) Silva is going home, returning this time to take up a miter and crosier as Bishop of Honolulu.

News of his appointment came through the Vatican Information Service on May 17, when Father Silva was already in Hawaii to meet with the media and local Catholics. He has served as vicar general of the Oakland Diocese since 2003, has held the post of vocations director from 1979 to 1983, and worked in numerous parishes as pastor and associate pastor.

In a written statement, Father Silva said the people of the Oakland Diocese have helped him “grow in faith, in love and in the joy that comes with serving.” He also noted his love for Hawaii, where his great-grandparents settled after leaving the Azores 125 years ago. He was born in Honolulu in 1949.

“It is awesome to think that the Lord united these two loves – for him in the priesthood and for the people of Hawaii – in a special way,” he said.

Even though he came to California as an infant, he has often visited the Islands, where many relatives still live, and is acquainted with several priests who attended St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park with him.

“He certainly has a knowledge of the people of Hawaii and a real understanding of the local culture,” said Father Gary Secor, delegate for clergy in Honolulu. He added that Father Silva also has a “great devotion to Father Damian and Mother Marianne,” two Hawaiians declared blessed for their work among leper patients on Molokai.

In the Oakland Diocese, several priests said Father Silva is a good choice for Hawaii. “I think he’s a wonderful man,” said Father Seamus Genovese, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Oakland and his classmate at St. Patrick’s, adding, “He’s a man of great integrity.”

Father George Mockel, pastor of St. Agnes in Concord, also a former classmate, said “I think it’s going to be good for him and good for Hawaii.” Father Mockel said he knew Father Silva “when he was Clarence,” his legal name, which he replaced with Larry sometime during his college years.

“I know that he is a man filled with all the virtues we look for in a true pastor of souls,” Bishop Allen Vigneron said in a formal statement.
“While I am sad to see him go, I give thanks to God for the blessing he will be in his service as bishop.”

At Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Fremont, the community was in a buzz of excitement at the news their former pastor had been named bishop.

“We’re so happy for him,” said parish secretary Gloria Lara. “I’ve been getting calls all morning.”

The current pastor, Father John Prochaska, said Father Silva “has great experience both in parish work and in the chancery.”

He was “able to bring the community together through the turmoil,” he said, referring to the accidental death in 1999 of Father Pascual Ramirez, pastor of St. Leonard in Fremont, and the merger of St. Leonard and neighboring Santa Paula Parish in Fremont into the single parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Father Silva left Guadalupe when he was named vicar general two years ago.

He also served as pastor of two parishes simultaneously, St. Patrick and St. Andrew-St. Joseph, both in Oakland, from 1998 to 1999, and pastor at St. Peter Martyr in Pittsburgh, St. Anthony in Oakland and St. John the Baptist in El Cerrito. After his ordination in 1975, he was associate pastor of St. Bernard in Oakland, Our Lady of the Rosary in Union City, and St. Bede in Hayward.

In Hawaii he will lead a community that has lacked a bishop for nearly a year, since Bishop Francis X. Di Lorenzo left on May 24, 2004, to become Bishop of Richmond, Va. He will oversee a Catholic population of 234,588 with 157 priests, 51 permanent deacons, and 361 members of religious orders.

Father Secor, who also serves as vocations director in Honolulu, said Father Silva will face the challenge of developing local vocations.
The Islands have priests to serve in the parishes, he said, but most of them come from outside Hawaii.

Father Silva was raised in the East Bay and graduated from St. John the Baptist Elementary School in San Lorenzo and Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland before attending St. Joseph College in Mountain View and St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park.

He has studied Spanish at summer courses in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and pursued sabbatical studies at the Institute of Continuing Theological Education, Pontifical North American College in Rome in 1991.

His ordination as bishop is expected to take place in late July in Honolulu.


Bishop-designate Larry Silva


 


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