A Michigan family was left horrified after a priest they chose to provide a homily at their son’s funeral referred to suicide numerous times, despite being asked to stop.
Detroit Free Press reports that University of Toledo freshman Maison Hullibarger took his own life on December 6. Rev. Don LaCuesta, a priest at the family’s church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Temperance, didn’t know the college student, but parents Jeffrey and Linda Hullibarger met with him beforehand to discuss in detail what the priest should say during the sermon. They were shocked when LaCuesta ignored their requests and instead, shared his thoughts on suicide.
After questioning whether Maison had “repented in the eyes of God,” LaCuesta reportedly called him a sinner, despite the family begging, “Father, please stop.”
Father Don LaCuesta questioned whether Maison Hullibarger, 18, would enter heaven https://t.co/Xg3rHzsWUm
— Toby Luckhurst (@TobyLuckhurst) December 15, 2018
“He basically called our son a sinner,” Linda Hullibarger said.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘What is he doing?” Jeff Hullibarger added. “It was his time to tell everybody what he thought of suicide, (and) we couldn’t believe what he was saying….There were actually a couple of younger boys who were Maison’s age who left the church sobbing. People told me there was almost a smirk on his face.”
LaCuesta continued until the end of the sermon, ignoring requests from the parents. Although archdiocese spokeswoman Holly Fournier later apologized on LaCuesta’s behalf, the family said it wasn’t enough. They’re hoping the priest is removed from the parish.
“Really, the only way for that to happen is for this priest to be removed. We’re afraid that, like the Catholic Church does, they’ll send him off and he’ll do it to somebody else,” Jeff Hullibarger said.
Adding to the family’s pain, Maison’s former high school football coach showed up to the funeral, despite Maison’s family contacting an intermediary at Bedford High School school shortly after Maison’s death, and explaining the coach was not allowed at the funeral.
The coach, identified as Jeff Wood, was asked to immediately leave upon his arrival to the funeral service. According to Maison’s parents, Wood verbally mistreated their son and his younger siblings when they attended the school.
Afterward, Wood posted on social media, writing that he was the “fall guy,” and it happened because “we blame others for our own shortcomings.” The school district later fired Wood, according to The Blade.
Meanwhile, the family continues to pick up the pieces after Maison’s untimely death. Toward the end of his funeral service, Jeff Hullibarger said what was meant to be said about their son.
“[Maison] has had great impact on the lives of many people. He had a personality like no other, passionate and opinionated. That’s what we loved about him. Our family’s message today is please be kind to one another, reach out to those you care about, and show sincerity in your actions, and love forever unconditionally.”
[Feature Photo: Maison Hullibarger/Handout]