Hawaii’s Catholics welcomed their new shepherd
with a jubilant arena-sized embrace July 21 with the ordination and installation
of island-born Clarence R. Silva as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of
An estimated 5,000 people gathered in the Neal Blaisdell Center Arena
to witness and participate in a liturgy radiant with color and tradition,
brimming with glorious music and enlivened by exuberant spontaneous applause.
The event was historic in substance and scope. It was the first time in
Hawaii that a diocesan bishop was ordained and installed in the same ceremony.
Joining the celebration were three archbishops and 15 bishops, 150 priests
and 50 deacons. Several hundred of the laity present were related to the
new bishop, a descendent of three generations of Hawaii residents.
Bishop “Larry” Silva, 55, appeared overcome with emotion at
various parts of the symbol-rich three-hour liturgy that elevated him
first from priest to bishop, and then to bishop of the Church in Hawaii.
He stepped into his new position with grace and humility. “As in
the past Christ called unworthy and weak men to be his apostles, even
today he has done so in calling me to serve you as a successor of the
apostles, your bishop,” he said in his post-Communion address.
The music, led by a choir of 270 and accompanied by a small orchestra,
was wide ranging and included Hawaiian and Gregorian chant, locally composed
responses and litanies, a modern classical piece and old standards.
Hawaii had not seen so many Catholic clergy in one place for a long time.
Of the vested deacons and priests, about 15 of the deacons and 60 of the
priests were from Oakland, the diocese in which Bishop Silva grew up and
served as a priest for 30 years. Another huge swath of arena seating held
several hundred Oakland laity.
Hanging above the stage was a 14-foot tall banner of the new bishop’s
coat of arms. To the sides, hung 10-foot high banners of Hawaii’s
two candidates for sainthood, Blessed Marianne Cope and Blessed Damien
Conch shell greeting
The ceremonies began with a spoken welcome by cantors Alika Cullen and
Paul Manz, followed by two men in Hawaiian garb trumpeting a conch shell
The first to process into the arena and take their places were members
of five Hawaiian Royal Societies, 85 men and women in formal suits, holoku
and capes, accompanied by the Hawaiian chanting of Marianist Brother Franklin
Next was the presentation down the center aisle of the 100-year-old “cathedra,”
or bishop’s chair, and the bishop’s pastoral ring, crosier
and miter. The chair, brought from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace,
was carried on a shoulder platform by four men. Escorting the procession
dressed in ancient Hawaiian attire were kumu John Keola Lake and Na Wa‘a
Lalani Kahuna o Pu‘u Kohala who chanted a Hawaiian prayer of genealogy
After the chair and other bishop’s insignia where placed in their
positions on stage, Na Hanona o ka Halau Hula Pa Ola Kapu performed a
hula kahiko as Lake and the others chanted.
Historic and momentous event
Beginning with 17 interfaith and ecumenical representatives and ending
with Bishop Silva’s primary consecrator, San Francisco Archbishop
William Levada, the solemn parade of white-robed clerics and hierarchy
lasted about 20 minutes.
All clergy wore purple and white orchid leis, the fancier styles going
to those of higher rank. The only one in the sanctuary not wearing a lei
was Bishop-elect Silva. That would come later.
The bishop-to-be wore a zucchetto or red skull cap and a white chasuble
with a wide gold decorative band running down the center front and back.
When everyone took his or her place in the sanctuary, Archbishop Levada
began the liturgy with an impromptu, non-liturgical greeting.
“We gather this afternoon for an historic and momentous event,”
he said, “a moment of grace and of prayer, a moment of thanksgiving
for this Diocese of Honolulu, for the Church of Hawaii.”
The Mass then proceeded with the Liturgy of the Word and a distant Mainland
cousin of Bishop-elect Silva, Karla Kippen, taking the first reading.
The second reading by Hawaii resident Jeffrey Chang was taken from the
Book of Revelation verse that provided the new bishop with his episcopal
motto, “Witness to Jesus.”
Deacon Daniel Guinaugh delivered the reading from John’s Gospel
that recalled Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, one of Bishop Silva’s
favorite Bible passages.
Next, the fluid Gregorian chant of the traditional seven-verse Veni Creator
Spiritus introduced the solemn rite of ordination.
It began with two close friends of the bishop-elect “presenting”
him to Archbishop Levada for election. They were Father Antonio Bico of
the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ, and Father Gary Secor of the Diocese of
Honolulu who said, “Most Reverend Father, the Church in Hawaii …
asks you to ordain this priest, Clarence R. Silva, to the responsibility
of the episcopate.”
The archbishop then asked that the official papal proclamation appointing
the new bishop be read.
That was the task of Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the papal nuncio to
the United States, who stood at the pulpit to read an English translation
of Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter to Bishop Silva on his appointment
as bishop of Honolulu. Msgr. Terrence Watanabe held the original copy
written in Latin on parchment.
“My warm greetings,” he began. “I am very happy to be
“The Church in Honolulu rejoices as Father Clarence Silva is ordained
to the fullness of the priesthood and solemnly installed as chief shepherd
of this beloved community of faith,” he said.
The apostolic letter was addressed directly to Bishop-elect Silva.
“Beloved son,” the archbishop read, “we, on our part,
turn our thoughts to you, and we call upon your proven zeal for the good
of the Diocese of Honolulu, since, up to now, in the Diocese of Oakland,
you have exhibited outstanding qualities as a priest and also have shown
in yourself the virtues which are necessary for the higher office of the
“Therefore,” the pope’s letter stated, “accepting
the opinion of the Congregation for Bishops and willingly by virtue of
the fullness of our apostolic authority, we appoint you shepherd and ordinary
of the … Diocese of Honolulu.
“…take all of the pastoral experience you have acquired up
to this point and apply it to the care and building up of the dear community
of Honolulu…,” read Archbishop Montalvo.
Following its reading, the pope’s letter was presented to the college
of consultors, priest officials of the Diocese of Honolulu as an extended
ovation by the congregation served as the “consent of the people.”
Apostolic witness to Jesus
It was then Oakland Bishop Allen H. Vigneron’s turn to take to the
pulpit for the homily.
“I want to express the joy that all of us from the Diocese of Oakland,
pastors and people, feel this day when Clarence Silva, one of our number,
a beloved son of our diocese, becomes the Bishop of Honolulu,” he
“His priestly ministry has been a great gift to us,” Bishop
Vigneron said. “We are confident that through his ministry as bishop,
God will work powerfully in your midst.”
The Oakland bishop’s talk, which continued for more than 20 minutes,
was primarily an instruction on the role of bishop to his adopted church.
The ordination will “transform Clarence Silva into an apostolic
witness to Jesus,” he said, borrowing from the bishop-elect’s
“The gift of Father Silva is the gift of a pastor, a teacher who
will nourish and strengthen you in the faith of Jesus Christ,” he
Bishop Vigneron concluded with a personal assessment of the man he chose
two years ago to be his vicar general.
“I must say that he believes what he preaches, he embraces it and
he lives it,” he said.
“I must say that he loves Hawaii and even more, he loves you,”
the bishop said. “I must say that he will spend himself for you,
that he will do everything within his power to help you come to the day
when … you will celebrate the supper of the Lamb and see the Lamb
in his glory.”
He described him as a priest who loves Blessed Damien and Blessed Marianne
and who will “live up to these great examples of witnesses to Jesus.”
Laying on of hands
The homily was followed by the “examination of the candidate,”
a ritual list of questions posed by Archbishop Levada to the bishop-elect.
Eight times, to eight interrogations asking the candidate if he is “resolved”
to fulfill the duties of bishop, Bishop-elect Silva responded, “I
To the ninth and final question, he said, “I am, with the help of
In a traditional posture of humility common to all ordinations, the bishop-to-be
then lay prostrate as the choir director Robert Mondoy intoned the Litany
of the Saints to music he composed based on Hawaiian chant.
The long list of saints was invoked to the rhythmic beating of native
Hawaiian musical implements as Bishop-elect Silva lay motionless face-down
on an Oriental rug.
After the litany, the bishop-elect knelt before Archbishop Levada who,
as the primary consecrator, in silence placed his hands on the candidate’s
slightly bowed head in the ancient sign of ordination.
The two co-consecrators, Bishop Vigneron and Bishop Emeritus of Oakland
John Cummins, did the same. Bishop Silva remained kneeling, his eyes closed,
his face in repose, as the rest of the bishops followed suit.
Next, while Deacons William Bothe and Lawrence Sousa of Oakland held the
Book of the Gospels over the new bishop’s head, Archbishop Levada
recited the “Prayer of Consecration” validating the ordination.
“Father, you know all hearts,” he prayed. “You have
chosen your servant for the office of bishop. May he be a shepherd to
your holy flock, and a high priest blameless in your sight…”
The archbishop then anointed Bishop Silva’s head with oil, and presented
him with the Book of the Gospel as a reminder of his duty to preach the
Word of God.
The investiture of the bishop’s ring, miter and crosier, or pastoral
staff, completed the ordination rite. The symbols of the office of bishop
were presented to Archbishop Levada by the new bishop’s close friends
Kevin and Mary Alice Self who carried the ring, his brother Len Silva
who carried the miter and diocesan administrator Father Thomas Gross,
who held the crosier.
The archbishop placed the ring on Bishop Silva’s finger, the miter
on his head and handed him his staff, a simple polished koa pole curving
gracefully at the top in a three-quarter circle.
Vigorous standing ovation
The transformation to bishop complete, the only action left was to install
Bishop Silva as the chief shepherd of the Diocese of Honolulu. This was
done by Archbishop Levada simply escorting the new bishop onto the upper
stage to take his seat on the cathedra.
Bishop Silva sat down and the entire arena burst into a long and vigorous
standing applause as the new bishop seemed about to burst into tears of
The bishops then lined up once again to embrace the new bishop with the
customary “kiss of peace.”
The bishops were followed by representatives from the Church in Hawaii
who offered gifts and hugs and words of congratulations.
The parade of presentations was accompanied by the choir’s “Canticle
of Titus,” another Mondoy composition, and descriptions of the gifts
by Maryknoll Sister Earnest Chung.
Food was a popular gift with the Portuguese offering loaves of sweetbread
and bottles of wine and the Chinese bearing a box of char siu bao, the
announcement of which elicited a ripple of laughter from locals. A dominance
of Filipino Catholics in the crowd ensured a spontaneous applause at their
presentation. Other offerings included cultural artwork and symbols and
By the time the procession was over, the smiling and now more relaxed
bishop wore a thick and festive assortment of leis.
It was Bishop Silva’s “show” for the remainder of the
ceremony, as Archbishop Levada stepped aside to let the newly ordained,
freshly installed Bishop of Honolulu preside over the rest of the Mass.
Making the presentation of the offertory gifts of bread and wine were
the bishop’s sister Trudy Silva and younger brothers Edward and
During the preparation of the gifts, the choir sang a composition requested
by the new bishop, Randall Thompson’s most famous piece, “Alleluia,”
a lofty, complex anthem written in 1940 and sung at Bishop Silva’s
At the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, the new bishop took the unusual
step to break from ritual to offer a personal commentary. His message
was simple, that the ceremony up to that point paled in comparison to
the gift of the Holy Eucharist about to be made present on the altar.
“We now come to the most important part of the liturgy,” he
said. “What has preceded was filled with the splendor and color
of the richness of the rituals of the church and yet this is the moment
at which Christ himself, the Risen One, becomes present to us in form
of bread and wine changed into his body and blood.
“We thank the Lord for this gift,” he said. “It is so
routine. It is done every day in every place throughout the world and
yet this is why we are here, to be in the presence of our Lord, of our
Pastor, of our Savior.”
Linking past and present
After communion, it was the new bishop’s time to talk.
Using his episcopal motto, “Witness to Jesus,” as a refrain,
he linked the faith of the past with the faith of the present using examples
from Hawaii’s Catholic history and that of his own family.
“My father often told the story of how his mother baked Portuguese
sweet bread to help raise funds to build St. Theresa Church, now the Co-Cathedral
of the Diocese of Honolulu,” he said. “Even today Portuguese
sweet bread is baked on Maui to support the works of the church. All these
bakers, past and present, in their simple way, give witness to Jesus.”
In another past/present comparison, he tied his new calling to that of
the original apostles.
“As in the past Christ called unworthy and weak men to be his apostles,
even today he has done so in calling me to serve you as a successor of
the apostles, your bishop,” he said.
Blessing the people
The new bishop then ventured into the congregation, accompanied by Bishops
Vigneron and Cummins, to bless the people as the choir sang the old standby
“Holy God We Praise Thy Name.” Hands went up across the arena
as people made the sign of the cross to the new bishop’s blessing
as he moved down the aisles, creating a uniquely Catholic version of the
Back at the cathedra, Bishop Silva pronounced the final prayer and blessing
— in Hawaiian — before the deacon intoned the end of the Mass.
The procession out of the arena was essentially a reverse of the one that
began the liturgy, only this time it was anchored by the new bishop. It
was also much faster, boosted by a buoyant mood and a bouncy Hawaiian-style
recessional hymn, “At the Name of Jesus.”
of Honolulu Clarence “Larry” Silva blesses the crowd of 5,000
during his July 21 ordination and installation. Bishop Emeritus of Oakland
John Cummins (left) and Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron were co-consecrators.
Bishop Silva was a priest of the Diocese of Oakland for 30 years before
his appointment to Honolulu.
Hawaiian Catholic Herald photo by Lisa
William Bothe, left, and Lawrence Sousa, of Oakland, hold the Book of
the Gospels above Bishop Clarence (Larry) Silva’s head during his
Hawaiian Catholic Herald photo by Lisa
Larry Silva laughs as Hawaii comedian Frank DeLima, dressed as "Cardinal
Francis X. Vermicelli," leads the crowd in a toast at the new bishop's
reception following his ordination, July 21. The toast: "Hi Ho, Silva!".
Hawaiian Catholic Herald photo by Lisa