Incoming Bishop Larry Silva, left, was aided yesterday by Monsignor Terry Watanabe at the Honolulu Catholic Diocese.

A shepherd’s

The Most Rev. Larry
Silva is picked to lead
Hawaii Catholics

Honolulu's new bishop recognizes that the shortage of priests and the scarcity of youths interested in the job is a major challenge for the local church and for its "chief shepherd."

Silva's background

The Most Rev. Larry Silva is the son of the late Richard Silva, an electrician and refrigeration mechanic, and Catherine Alves Silva, a homemaker. He has three brothers, Len, Edward and Francis, and a sister, Gertrude Silva. He was born Aug. 6, 1949, in St. Francis Hospital in Liliha, and baptized at St. Anthony Church in Kailua.

The family moved to California in 1950. He graduated in 1967 from Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, Calif.

His education includes St. Patrick's College Seminary, Mountain View, Calif., bachelor degree in humanities, master of divinity degree; Cuernavaca, Mexico, summer Spanish language studies, 1975, 1978; and Institute of Continuing Theological Education, Pontifical North American College, Rome, sabbatical studies, 1991.

He was Oakland diocese vicar general and moderator of the curia from November 2003 to present.

The Most Rev. Larry Silva, 55, said he needs help in meeting the challenge. "It's motivating priests and religious (orders) and people in parishes to promote vocations to the priesthood; (telling youths) 'This is a life the Lord may be calling you to.'"

He also called for collaboration among lay people and clergy in "a dialogue so we understand what the church teaches. I have often said I don't have any problem with what the church teaches, but sometimes I do have a problem with the way it teaches," Silva said.

"We cannot teach in sound bites. We can't teach some very profound truths in simple ways. I have a lot to learn," Silva told reporters yesterday.

But he doesn't come as a stranger. Silva was born on Oahu, has a large extended family and many friends in Hawaii and has visited the state frequently. The bishop, who was baptized Clarence Richard, said he prefers to be identified as Larry Silva.

Silva has been the vicar general of the diocese of Oakland, Calif., since 2003 and a priest for 30 years. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to fill the Honolulu post, which has been vacant for a year following the reassignment of Bishop Francis DiLorenzo to Richmond, Va.

The Very Rev. Joseph Grimaldi, left, Watanabe and Silva awaited the start of a news conference announcing Silva as the new bishop of Honolulu.

"The church in Honolulu is getting our very best," said Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron in a statement yesterday. "I know that he is a man filled with all the virtues we look for in a true pastor of souls."

Silva said, "I have had a developing love for Hawaii." His great-grandparents immigrated to the islands from the Azores in Portugal. His grandparents and parents were born here.

"It is an awesome thing that the Lord has united these two loves, the love I experience for him in the priesthood with this love for the people of Hawaii, by giving me the privilege of being the chief shepherd of this church in Honolulu," he said. "I know being a bishop is not an easy thing these days, it never was. I know the Lord promised his yoke is easy and his burden is light so I accept this responsibility with joy."

Silva planned to preside at the noon Mass today at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral on Fort Street Mall. He said he will go to Kalaupapa tomorrow for a day of prayer, to share the spirit of Mother Marianne Cope and Father Damien DeVeuster, both recognized by the church as "blessed" for serving the leprosy victims quarantined there. "I will let that empower me in my ministry to the people of Hawaii," Silva said. "Damien has been my hero since I was a boy."

Silva's colleagues praised the bishop as a mentor for his fellow priests. "He is concerned about the fraternity of priests," said the Rev. Gary Secor, who heads the Honolulu diocese Office of Clergy. "He has a real concern for priests and their well-being. He is very well respected." Secor said they have been friends since their days at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif.

"It's good to have someone who definitely has a sense of the local culture. He loves Hawaii, really does," Secor said.

The Rev. Mark Wiesner, communications director of the Oakland diocese, described Silva as "a man of great integrity. He has a lot of pastoral experience which will serve him well as bishop." Wiesner said Silva was his mentor "when I was struggling as a seminarian intern in his parish. He has great wisdom to share with me. He is definitely a man of prayer."

Silva's aunt, Mabel Neves of Hawaii Kai, said: "He always wanted to be a priest. He told his father when he left eighth grade he wanted to be a priest. His father said finish your education first. He went to the seminary as soon as they let him."

Neves, 87, said Silva "loves the ocean. He sky-dives once in a while. He is a very soft-spoken and nice person." She is the last of her generation but there are "oodles of cousins," she said. The Oahu cousins include Carmen Silva Kiyabu, Paul Silva, Roland and Norbert DeCosta, Louis and Patrick Neves and Mary Neves Kobayashi.

"He is best at listening to people," said his former parishioner Beverly Croshal, of Walnut Creek, Calif. "He would give advice, help smooth things out."

Croshal said her family received a note from Silva asking for their prayers in his new assignment: "We love him dearly. He is down-to-earth." She served as director of religious education while Silva was pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in El Cerrito, Calif.

"He is family oriented, so being in Hawaii is perfect for him, with family around him."

Silva will return to Oakland on Friday. The date of his ordination as bishop has not yet been set. The Rev. Thomas Gross will continue as diocesan administrator until the installation.

Catholic Church in Hawaii
The Holy See

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