The Michigan priest who condemned a teen at his own funeral after the youngster committed suicide has been reprimanded for his dreadful behavior.
After University of Toledo freshman Maison Hullibarger took his own life December 4, Father Don LaCuesta took the opportunity to slate Maison as a sinner for committing suicide and even questioned whether the youngster had “repented in the eyes of God.”
According to a statement released by the Archdiocese of Detroit, LaCuesta will not be permitted to preach at funeral services for the foreseeable future.
“Father LaCuesta agrees that the family was not served as they should have been served,” the AOD wrote in a statement. “For the foreseeable future, he will not be preaching at funerals and he will have all other homilies reviewed by a priest mentor.”
The statement continued:
“In addition, he has agreed to pursue the assistance he needs in order to become a more effective minister in these difficult situations. This assistance will involve getting help from professionals – on human, spiritual and pastoral levels – to probe how and why he failed to effectively address the grief of the family in crisis.”
The priest addressed the awful situation during his weekend mass, admitting that he “fell well short” of providing the family “the comfort they so desperately needed.”
LaCuesta also noted that he would be entering a period of “deep interior reflection” in order to learn how to “serve more effectively in the future,” adding that he “missed the mark” by delivering his controversial homily.
Hullibarger’s parents, Jeff and Linda, had met with the priest prior to the service to specify what they would like him to say.”We wanted him to celebrate how Maison lived, not how he died,” Maison’s mother said.
So when the priest took it upon himself to preach a hard-hitting sermon about the sinfulness of suicide, Jeff stormed up to the pulpit and demanded he cease. “Father, please stop,” he whispered, hoping that the clergyman would have enough decency about him to quit slandering the deceased. But still, LaCuesta continued.
“He was up there condemning our son, pretty much calling him a sinner. He wondered if he had repented enough to make it to heaven. He said ‘suicide’ upwards of six times,” Jeff explained to the Detroit Free Press. “There were actually a couple of younger boys who were Maison’s age who left the church sobbing.”
Then, when it came time for the dad to eulogize his own son, LaCuesta attempted to end the mass.
“I had words prepared, but when [the priest] was done, he was going to finish mass without giving anybody else the opportunity to say anything. He had the organist start playing and they were going to roll the casket out — some nerve,” Jeff told DFP. Hullibarger said that many in attendance noted that the priest had “a smirk on his face” during his insensitive remarks.
The Archdiocese said that in a “continuing effort to offer comfort” to the family,