Priest Calls Teen That Died By Suicide a Sinner During Funeral

Priest Calls Teen That Died By Suicide a Sinner During Funeral December 16, 2018
family photo

A family in mourning attended the funeral of their son and brother at Detriot Catholic Church. During the service for their 18-year-old son Maison, Jeff and Linda Hullibarger sat horrified listening to the sermon given by the priest. Instead of delivering an uplifting homily to remember the positive aspects of Maison’s life, the priest called the teen a sinner. Now the parents are demanding the priest be fired for his statements.

According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, Maison Hullibarger died on December 4 as a result of suicide. His parents Jeff and Linda Hullibarger made arrangements for his funeral at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Temperance.

Before Maison’s funeral, Linda and Jeff sat down with the priest to discuss what they wanted him to say in the homily. Jeff said that they asked Father Don LaCuesta to keep the sermon uplifting and a celebration of Maison’s life.

During the discussion with Father LaCuesta, Jeff said they never told him how Maison died. Instead, he told Father LaCuesta that Maison had a significant effect on people. The parents shared that Maison was passionate and opinionated.

Jeff told the Detriot Free Press, “And we said we had a message for everyone — to be kind to each other, to reach out to those you care about, and to be sincere in your actions and to show love unconditionally.”

After meeting with the priest, the family believed everyone was on the same page. However, during the service, Jeff said the priest did not use the notes from their conversation. Instead of sharing the beautiful memories of Maison’s life, the priest decided to talk about the sin of suicide.

During the homily, the Hullibargers say the priest lectured the guests on suicide. They say Father LaCuesta told the guests that suicide is a sin that condemns those that take their own lives. Additionally, they say Father LaCuesta said he wasn’t sure that Maison would go to heaven for his actions.

While the Father LaCuesta gave the sermon, Jeff said his other children started crying. Jeff walked up to the priest and asked him to stop. However, Father LaCuesta continued his speech condemning Maison for taking his own life.

When Father LaCuesta finished his homily, he prevented the family from delivering Maison’s eulogy. Instead, he asked the organist to play the music and have the casket taken from the church. Jeff said that as the family left the service, he told Father LaCuesta he was not welcome at the burial.

According to the Hullibargers, the priest’s sermon left numerous guests in tears and horrified by what they heard. The Hullibargers say they feel the priest judged their son without knowing anything about him.

When the Archdiocese of Detriot received a complaint about the funeral, the diocese issued a statement. The statement said:

“We share the family’s grief at such a profound loss. Our hope is always to bring comfort into situations of great pain, through funeral services centered on the love and healing power of Christ.

“Unfortunately, that did not happen in this case. We understand that an unbearable situation was made even more difficult, and we are sorry.

“After some reflection, the presider agrees that the family was not served as they should have been served. 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.”

Despite the requests by the Hullibargers to fire Father LaCuesta, the diocese did not comment on his future employment.

While the family is right to feel outraged and angry, the Catholic Church has never had the best track record in regards to suicide. The church has argued for hundreds of years that suicide is a mortal sin. The sin was so great that the act itself could leave the person out of heaven. For years, the church refused to provide mass services for anyone that died by suicide.

In recent years, the Catholic Church has slightly softened their views on suicide. Today they say that suicide can be forgiven when done under severe stress. Under these circumstances, the church will provide mass. However, the church still refuses to acknowledge that suicide isn’t a sin.

The family says they will never go back to the church. For many Catholics, funerals can be a time for a great awakening. The Catholic Church consistently uses funerals as a time to invoke their opinions on the death and life of the individual despite the wishes of the family.

No one deserves to hear hurtful and disparaging comments about a loved one at a funeral. The Hullibargers only wanted to remember their son for the mark he left on the world.

Instead, the family is left with horrific memories of a priest tarnishing Maison’s legacy. No family deserves that kind of treatment.

May Maison rest in peace, and may his family find comfort during this tragic time.



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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • zenlike

    What did they expect, exactly? This is pretty much standard catholic doctrine. Deplorable, yeah, but that is why I personally want nothing to do with them.

  • same with me. I’ve written about how the priest treated my family at my grandfather’s funeral

  • frostysnowman

    Suicide is always done when someone is under extreme stress.

    A close friend committed suicide when we were 14. The priest at her funeral didn’t give a speech like that but he did make a huge thing about only Catholics being allowed to take communion at the service. That pissed my mom off (we are Presbyterian) to no end. And several Catholic classmates said my friend was going to hell because of what she’d done. No compassion at all. I was flabbergasted, even at that young age.

  • not according to the church is it always done under extreme stress. I’m sorry about your experience -that’s standard Catholic MO though. You can’t take communion unless you are a baptised catholic

  • guerillasurgeon

    At a friend of mine’s mother’s funeral – which his family had travelled thousands of miles to attend – the priest said there would be no speeches of remembrance from anyone in the audience. Because “this is not a funeral, but a mass for her soul.” The speeches of remembrance started with the grandchildren. I really must remember to ask what the priest’s reaction was.

  • Raging Bee

    If the Church want to preach about the “sin” of suicide, maybe they could talk a bit about whatever “sins” other people might have committed to drive a teenager to suicide in the first place.

  • Zetopan

    Churches that invented the heaven fantasies can easily decide who gets into those imaginary locations. Rational people recognize the entire set of fantasies and the cunning frauds who promote it. As long as there are desperate people there will be religious grifters to take advantage of them. The catholic church hates no longer being able to get income from selling indulgences and being the recipient of properties owned by people that secular authorities imprisoned or killed in the past. Today they have branched out into money laundering and other underhanded tactics that one commonly mistakenly assumes is a mafia only activity, while the church is actually merely a religious mafia protection racket.

  • Jim Jones
  • Vince Juarez

    every 13 minutes someone in the US will die from suicide .I should’ve been one of those persons. But by the grace of God it wasn’t my time. Remember: you are very much loved

  • John Hinkle

    One response would’ve been to approach the priest after the sermon/homily/mass and, smiling, ask him aside and SUCKER-PUNCH him in the balls through his dress.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    At least LaCuesta and his archbishop are doing one thing right: corroding public sympathy for the church, driving people away from the pews, and rendering their corrupt institution more irrelevant than ever.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    Count on the Catholic clergy to hijack a memorial, and turn it into a propaganda rally for their dogmatic or political issue of the day. It’s becoming something of a running joke lately, or maybe I am just noticing it more.

  • I know – it happens so frequently

  • YEP!

  • Glandu

    don’t go as low as them. Prove you are better through staying civilized.

    P.S. : civilized does not mean nice 😉

  • Glandu

    Well, who are you to know?

  • firebubbles310

    Not to be pedantic but they expanded that from what I understand. Orthodox and eastern church Christians can actually take communion. But they really have weird rules. Anglicans can I think? Depending. It is all woo anyway. And how would they know anyway?

    I was at a funeral for a family friend and all I could read was that stupid pamphlet. Funerals for priests are long.

    I hate that priests and preachers can’t show a shred of compassion for those who die by suicide. To do it means they were in more pain than they could handle. I have been there. Regardless of their woo beliefs a teen died by his own hand and his parents are grieving. It would have cost this priest nothing to be kind. May his priest garments always be itchy and his church membership small.

  • at my grandfather’s funeral in 2005 – only Catholics could take communion.

  • same with my grandmother’s funeral 2 years ago

  • HematitePersuasion

    Catholic Family Gets Catholic Doctrine At Catholic Funeral! News at 11!

    I am sorry it took such an immediate and personal encounter with the cruel doctrines of the RCC to drive home the inherent immorality of the RCC, but it has been there all along. The RCC has sugarcoated it, but sugarcoating fecal matter just results in crusty crap. What the RCC in the person of that priest did to that family is exactly what it has done to thousands and millions of others, and will continue to do ad nauseum.

    Best to avoid toxic theology in the first place.

  • persephone

    They met with him before the funeral and discussed all this. The one thing I think they should have done was to tell the priest that their son had committed suicide, then let the priest decide if he could follow their request. Apparently, the priest found out about the suicide, but, instead of contacting the parents and discussing it, he decided to go full a$$hole and turn an already difficult event into a lecture that made everything so much worse.

  • zenlike

    Oh, he is an asshole, no doubt about it. But the parents, even if they thought suicide would not be brought up, still decided to have a religious funeral in a religion where suicide is indeed considered a sin, which seems weird to me. They still seem to support this religion, and thus its dogmas, including the one considering suicide a sin, but get prissy when it is actually brought up.

  • persephone

    The point is not that it was brought up. They discussed the homily before the funeral and the priest agreed with their request. The priest then decided to go rogue and be a complete dick to people who were already miserable and suffering.

    That’s a garbage move by a garbage person.

    Prissy, really? That’s some garbage, too. Have you lost a child? You can’t even imagine what that would feel like.

  • zenlike

    No, I can not imagine that, true. They still had the funeral at an institution that condemned their child to hellfire, though, and every other child in that same situation. But they get mad when this is mentioned. They still support this garbage, they just think people should be silent about it. As I said, I find this very weird.

  • Rutger MacDonald

    I know, it’s all bullshit, but the Catholic Church needs to end that egregious, made up, LIE about suicide, and offer last rites to these people. This is nothing but callous victim blaming and re-victimizing.

  • Rutger MacDonald

    The Catholic Church needs to end that egregious, evil, and made up LIE about suicide, and offer last rites to these people. This is nothing but callous victim blaming and re-victimization for the deceased and their families.

  • richp

    I am Catholic. Yes, suicide is a grave sin because only God may determine the length of one’s earthly life and suicide indicates despair, which is also a sin against the Holy Spirit….and yes, the boy may not go to Heaven because of it. The parents, being Catholic, must know this, and also know that their son would have been denied a burial in years past. In recent years priests seem to preach at funerals that EVERYONE goes to Heaven. This is simply to make the family feel good, but is untrue and does nothing for the soul of the deceased. If the family truly loved their son they would acknowledge he committed a grave sin with suicide and they would be imploring prayers on his behalf, which he needs desperately. The priest here was attempting to emphasize the boy’s fate, but he apparently went over the top. A simple mention of the fact the boy needs prayers (after all, that is why there is a funeral Mass, correct?) and going on to describe his life and the gratitude the family has in having been blessed by his presence for the short years they had him would have been appropriate in this situation. Pray for this boy, please. He will one day thank you for it.

  • Anat

    Ahem. For some reason you assume an unevidenced place called ‘Heaven’ exists, and that you have factual knowledge regarding who might be able to get there. You don’t know any of that. Everything in your post needs to be prefaced with ‘according to my belief’. Also, the evidence available suggests the boy in question is dead and therefore no longer in any form of existence except as a memory to those who knew him. He doesn’t need anything, it is his family who needs help in the form of listening with empathy, and presence as accepting company.

  • richp

    Ahem. We are talking about Catholic belief and a Catholic family and a Catholic priest. Pardon me, but as an atheist who refuses to acknowledge the existence of a Creator despite the ample evidence of such by ALL around us, you have no standing to insert your belief system on me and my Catholic response to a Catholic situation. I did say the priest went over the top, but as I also said it IS Catholic belief that murder is a grave, mortal sin, and suicide is the murder of oneself. May God help you to grasp these simple truths.