A priest who delivered the eulogy at a teens funeral has found himself at the center of an intense theological debate. In the eulogy, Reverend Don LaCuesta spoke about sin and the afterlife and added that Maison Hullibarger, the deceased, would not be going to heaven because he took his own life.
The family, understandably, was shocked by the eulogy. The priest called Hullibarger a sinner. Hullibarger committed suicide in Temperance, Michigan on December 4.
The funeral, which was held on December 8, was officiated by Reverend Don LaCuesta who took the opportunity to highlight the Catholic Church’s position on suicide, repeatedly.
“It was his time to tell everybody what he thought of suicide, (and) we couldn’t believe what he was saying,” said Jeff Hullibarger, Maison’s father.
“He was up there condemning our son. He wondered if he had repented enough to make it to heaven. He said suicide upwards of six times.”
“There were actually a couple of younger boys who were Maison’s age who left the church sobbing,” Hullibarger added.
The Hullibargers had spoken with the priest before the service and they had shared what they wanted said during the service at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.
When the service began, though, the priest had his own agenda. The mentions of suicide were too much for the family, though, and Maison’s father stood and approached the priest at the alter. They spoke, but the priest continued with his eulogy.
“It’s not OK,” Jeff Hullibarger added. “He needs to be held accountable.”
Linda Hullibarger, Maison’s mother, was furious. “He basically called our son a sinner,” she said. “It was what he wanted. He said nothing about what we asked him to say.”
The Hullibargers have called from the priest’s removal. The Archdiocese of Detroit has acknowledged their complaint and have barred the priest from officiating at funerals.
“We understand that an unbearable situation was made even more difficult, and we are sorry,” the archdiocese wrote in a statement.
“For the foreseeable future, he will not be preaching at funerals and he will have his other homilies reviewed by a priest mentor.”
“In addition, he has agreed to pursue the assistance he needs in order to become a more effective minister in these difficult situations.”