Loved ones gathered to attend the funeral of Maison Hullibarger were already going through a hellish time.
As a result, they would have been forgiven for expecting his send-off to include messages of positivity and inspiration. How better to bid farewell to Maison than to hear how he touched the lives of others and brought joy during his time on Earth?
Instead, the priest in charge of the funeral allegedly condemned suicide before the mourners, going on to repeatedly reference the 18-year-old taking his own life.
Linda and Jeff Hullibarger met with the Rev. Don LaCuesta shortly after their son Maison had died on December 4. They reportedly didn’t discuss the manner of Maison’s death, but were clear on what they wanted his funeral to center around.
“We wanted it to be about family. We wanted him to talk about loving one another, lifting one another up and being kind to one another. That’s what we wanted the homily to be about,” Linda explained days after the funeral.
Instead, however, LaCuesta used the occasion to openly condemn suicide in front of loved ones including Maison’s five siblings and classmates.
“People in attendance, including many of their son’s classmates, had no idea as to the cause of death and became visibly and vocally upset about hearing Father Laguesta reveal and discuss it,” the subsequent lawsuit against the priest reads.
“Father LaCuesta repeatedly discussed suicide and how it is condemned by the Church, how it is a secular crime, and how it is a sin against God with dire eternal consequences.”
As per CNN, Linda explained during an interview last year how shock rippled through the room.
“I looked at Jeff and thought, ‘What is he doing?’” she said.
Jeff commented: “We have five other kids. Nobody could believe it.
“I looked at the parish, and everyone had the same look on their faces.
“After the first few times that he said that word (suicide), I approached the pulpit and I told him, I whispered in his ear, ‘Father, please stop.’”
Only LaCuesta wouldn’t stop.
“He didn’t miss a beat. He kept going,” Jeff said. “He said that word another handful of times. It made the worst day of our lives more worse.”
The Archdiocese of Detroit said LaCuesta was trying to offer a message of confidence in salvation.
“We acknowledge, however, that the family wanted a homily based on how their loved one lived, not one addressing how he passed away,” they said.
“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.”
Not only did LaCuesta deliver a homily at odds with what Linda and Jeff wanted, he then proceeded to draw the ceremony to a close before the parents could speak themselves, as they’d planned to.
“He proceeded to end the funeral, and the music started,” Linda said. “We had to stop the funeral director because everyone just stood up.”
Linda and Jeff are now campaigning for LaCuesta to be dismissed, and are suing him to that end. It’s their aim that he is removed from his position so that no other families ever have to suffer what they went through.
Indeed, I can’t imagine how I would have reacted if put in the same situation. Everyone is entitled to their own views and beliefs, but it seems like this priest was way out of line with his behavior.
Share this article if you think Rev. LaCuesta should have been more understanding with his homily. Rest in peace, Maison Hullibarger.