Photo Credits: Scallywag & Vagabond
An 18-year-old Maison Hullibarger took his own life and during his funeral a priest used a homily to condemn suicide and address the Roman Catholic Church's stance on this matter. Despite the fact that Maison's parents talked to the priest, Rev. Don LaCuesta, before the funeral and wanted the homily to be about the life of their son not the manner of his death, the priest focused on the boy's suicide and made his parents' grief even worse. The Hullibarger's anticipated hearing uplifting words for them, their family and friends attending the funeral, but instead the priest spoke about how suicide is against God and everyone who loves us. “Maison didn’t deserve this. He basically called him a sinner in front of everybody,” Ms. Hullibarger said, according to New York Times. “We were just blindsided.”
The priest's behavior and refusal to honor wishes of the deceased boy's parents made their already unbearable grief even worse so Mr. Hullibarger tried to intervene. "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.' "
It didn't work. "He didn't miss a beat. He kept going," Jeff said, as CNN reports. "He said that word another handful of times. It made the worst day of our lives more worse."
Under traditional Catholic doctrine, suicide was generally considered a mortal sin and those who took their own lives were denied salvation. In India, for example, people have been denied Christian burials if they committed suicide. This traditional interpretation of suicide as a mortal sin has changed with time but there is still a divide within the Catholic Church between traditionalists who take a hard line on suicide, and those with an understanding. LaCuesta's opinion is apparently still traditional and he used this funeral to share it with the grieving family.
According to CNN the Archdiocese of Detroit apologized to the Hullibarger family. "We understand that an unbearable situation was made even more difficult, and we are sorry," the archdiocese said in a statement. It said the priest will not be preaching at funerals for the foreseeable future, and "he will have all 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," the archdiocese said.
But the Hullibarger's are not content with this outcome and their reason for speaking out is because they want LaCuesta to be dismissed, so no other family will suffer the way they did. “Our purpose is to know that no other family, no other parent, nobody ever has to go through this again,” Ms. Hullibarger said, according to New York Times.