WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Priest lectured about suicide being wrong and its consequences to mourners during a teenager’s funeral.
- The parents of 18-year-old Maison Hullibarger who took his own life were very devastated and hurt by the priest’s message.
- The archdiocese apologized and said the priest will be seeking professional guidance to become a better minister.
Instead of being comforted by a priest’s homily at their son’s funeral, his message only made the worst day of Jeff and Linda Hullibarger’s lives even worse.
Jeff Hullibarger tried to interrupt by whispering to the priest to stop, but he just kept on going, repeating the word ‘suicide’ so many times and saying to mourners that suicide is wrong, said Jeff.
Days after their son Maison’s death, Jeff and Linda Hulllibarger discussed with the Rev. Don LaCuesta what they wanted him to deliver during the homily. Linda said that they wanted it to be about family.
“We wanted him to talk about loving one another and being kind to one another.”
But not even a word they discussed and requested for came out of his mouth during the Dec. 8 funeral, said Jeff.
“It was both unprofessional and unacceptable.”
While LaCuesta has not commented yet despite CNN’s requests, the Archdiocese of Detroit apologized to the Hullibargers.
In a statement, the archdiocese said: “We understand that an unbearable situation was made even more difficult, and we are sorry.”
While trying to explain that LaCuesta was trying to give a message of confidence in salvation, the statement also acknowledged the family’s wishes of a homily based on how their loved one lived and not the manner on how he died.
“We also know the family was hurt further by Father’s choice to share church teaching on suicide when the emphasis should have been placed more on God’s closeness to those who mourn.”
Furthermore, the statement said that the priest in question will no longer preach at funerals in the future and his homilies will be reviewed by a priest mentor. He has also agreed to get assistance on human, spiritual and pastoral levels, to become a more effective minister in difficult situations.
In a nutshell, the priest mentioned passages from the Bible saying how God can forgive even those who take their own lives even though “taking your own life is against God who made us.” He mentioned about our lives not being our own and that we should guard that gift “as long as God permits.” Finally, he spoke about the repercussions of suicide adding,”…now you will have to work through this pain yourselves.”
“He basically called our son a sinner in front of everyone,” said Linda.
The family then honored their son by sharing the family’s message: “Please be kind to one another, and reach out to those you care about. Love forever, unconditionally.”
A GoFundMe page that was set up to help pay for Maison’s funeral and burial expenses garnered $20,000 by Sunday.