Leon Letoto, center, of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, attended the annual Red Mass yesterday at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral.

Leaders urged
to labor for good

By Mary Adamski

Top state and city officials were exhorted to use their power for good and tap God's power for help as 450 people gathered yesterday for the annual Red Mass at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral.

Gov. Linda Lingle, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris and state House Speaker Calvin Say led contingents of Cabinet officials and legislators to the service, which was also attended by military, court and law enforcement representatives.

"Success in public service ultimately is not going to be judged by eloquent or persuasive arguments, but by how we treat each other and especially how we treat the most poor and powerless among us," said guest speaker Randall Roth, former University of Hawaii law professor, who now serves as Lingle's chief policy adviser.

Roth compared the historic downtown church to "another cathedral of sorts" two blocks away.

"In the cathedral where we are now gathered, Catholics believe humanity lifts up its heart to the divine and that the divine in turn touches humanity," he said.

"In the cathedral called the state Capitol, the hopes and aspirations of our people are heard by chosen leaders who, in turn, labor for the good and well-being of all."

Catholic Bishop Francis DiLorenzo urged the public officials to see themselves as "working along with God to further his plan for creation."

"We got involved in public life because we want to make a difference, make the world a better place and improve the quality of life of persons," he said.

DiLorenzo and about 30 Catholic priests in attendance wore red vestments, the color traditionally linked to services invoking the Holy Spirit.

Their crimson garb and the colorful uniforms worn by members of Hawaiian organizations, an opening chant by Marianist Brother Frank Pao and a fog of incense rising in the 160-year-old church brought a sense of pageantry to the Red Mass, which is a 700-year-old tradition in Europe.

It has become an annual event in Washington, D.C., and other American cities. It has been held in Honolulu at the beginning of the Legislature since 1955.

The talks were devoid of references to specific issues.

DiLorenzo said afterward that lobbying is not the point.

"We hope to give them confidence and courage to meet their responsibility knowing God will walk along with them," he said.

Lingle said: "Regardless of which religion, I'm always uplifted by attending services that call us to look to a higher power than ourselves. We need it. ... What people expect of us is great."

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