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Annual March for Life goes big and virtual this year

Updated: Apr 1

Bishop Larry Silva asks pastors to commemorate the event with Mass and adoration the evening before

By Patrick Downes

As printed in the Hawaii Catholic Herald


Hawaii’s 2021 March for Life, now taking shape in a virtual environment with in-person components, may end up having greater participation than in recent years, despite, or maybe because of, the coronavirus pandemic.


Catholic involvement is being boosted by Bishop Larry Silva and the new directors at the helm of the diocesan Respect Life Office, Deacon Gary and Val Streff, who have followed the previous director, Paulette Vernay, who retired last year.


The Diocese of Honolulu and the Knights of Columbus are joining Hawaii Life Alliance, the state’s leading pro-life non-profit organization, in a virtual March for Life on YouTube, 4-6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 22, which will include praise and worship and special messages from Bishop Larry Silva and a host of other religious and pro-life leaders.


On Jan 21, the evening before, Bishop Silva will celebrate a “Mass for the Protection of Life” 6 p.m. at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa in Kalihi followed by adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The event is open for in-person participation but pre-registration is necessary to observe proper pandemic protocols. To sign up, go to bit.ly/RespectLifeMassandAdorationJan21.


The bishop sent a memo dated Dec. 28, Feast of the Holy Innocents, to vicars forane, pastors and parish administrators, inviting them to join him by celebrating Mass simultaneously at their own parishes and scheduling adoration after Mass until midnight. “Or all night,” he said, “if adorers are willing to take turns during the night.”

Bishop Silva also urged pastors to make the flyer advertising the virtual event “widely available to your parishioners.”


“I ask you to consider scheduling these very important events to bring our people together in prayer and worship to pray for the promotion of life,” the bishop said.

He also told parishes to notify the Office of Worship of their participation in Mass and adoration so that a schedule can be published ahead of time for those who want to attend at a location near them.

“Thank you very much for making it possible for the people of our diocese to come together to promote life and to pray for a conversion of our culture into a culture of life,” the bishop said.


The 48th annual March for Life, which commemorates the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States, is normally a late afternoon rally in the rotunda of the Hawaii state capitol with music, speakers and sign-holding, ending with a walk around the capitol building.


This year’s theme, “For We are God’s Masterpiece,” is a quote from St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians 2:10.


The virtual doors open at 3:45 p.m. with praise and worship by the Tamala ohana.


The “march” will address many life topics besides abortion, including physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, sex-trafficking, adoption, foster care, suicide prevention and abstinence-only education.


Bishop Larry Silva speaks at the 2020 March for Life at the state capitol. (HCH file photo courtesy of Dann Ebina)


The main speakers include Pastor Waxer Tipton of One Love Ministries; Tiana Elisara; Vivian Aiona; Susan Duffy, director of the Pearson Foundation; Arimathea Bennett, president of Students for Life Hawaii; Pastor David Tamala; Pastor Kehilat HaMishkan; Eva Andrade, director of the Hawaii Catholic Conference; Jim Hochberg, attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom; Joe Picon of 40 Days for Life; and Deacon Gary Streff.


The Knights of Columbus will be the only ones making the physical walk around the capitol at the close of the event.


Deacon Streff is distributing to Catholic and other churches 3 by 9-foot pro-life banners for display during January.


Churches are also encouraged to have outdoor displays of pinwheels, Jan. 17-29, to represent the more than 63 million babies aborted in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973.


The Respect Life office said pinwheels can be bought at Amazon.com or Oriental Trading Company or youth groups and religious education classes could make their own.

“Be creative,” said the instructions.


Gloria Butac, the president of the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa’s Filipino Catholic Club, holds a pinwheel after the Jan. 6 Holy Hour for Vocations led by Bishop Larry Silva. During the month of January, local parishes are being encouraged to display pinwheels to represent those lives lost to abortion. (Photo: Dann Ebina)


According to the March for Life organizers, the “God’s Masterpiece” theme refers to the Apostle Paul “emphasizing that God himself took great delight in making you. So much so throughout Scripture God talks about the intimate details of our lives even in the womb.”

Unborn children are also God’s masterpieces.


To participate in the virtual event, RSVP by Jan. 7 to Janet Hochberg at (808) 225-4511, or email janet@hilifealliance.org, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. An event login link will be sent by Wednesday, Jan. 20.


In promoting the March for Life, the Streffs announced three goals for 2021 for the diocese’s Respect Life Ministry: to educate, inform and provide resources to the community supporting the sanctity of all life.


“We’d like the laity to be the light to the secular world alongside priests, deacons, nuns and other religious orders,” they said.


They hope to educate the public on legislative activity that threatens or supports life, to make people more aware of the many island organizations that promote a culture of life, and how they can be more involved with and supportive of them.

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