Bully by church? Reverend Don LaCuesta condemned after criticizing Temperance, Michigan teen, Maison Hullibarger for taking his own life during funeral service.
Bully by church? A Detroit priest has come under fire after criticizing a teen who recently took their life, calling the boy a sinner and wondering out aloud during his funeral, ‘whether he will get to heaven?”
Maison Hullibarger, an 18-year-old from Temperance, Michigan, died on December 4 after committing suicide. At the time of his death, Maison was a freshman honors student and athlete at the University of Toledo.
Hullibarger’s grieving family said Reverend Don LaCuesta would not stop bringing up the teen’s cause of death during Maison’s funeral on December 8, the Detroit Free Press reports.
‘It was his time to tell everybody what he thought of suicide, (and) we couldn’t believe what he was saying’ told Jeff Hullibarger, Maison’s father, according to the Free Press.
‘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 said.
Maison’s parents said they spoke with LaCuesta before the funeral about what they wanted to be said during the ceremony at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Temperance.
The parents recalled the priest jotting down notes during the conversation.
During the funeral, Maison’s father tried to put a stop to the talk of suicide by approaching the priest and whispering to him, but he said the priest ignored him.
The family has since called for LaCuesta to be removed altogether.
‘It’s not OK,’ Jeff Hullibarger said. ‘He needs to be held accountable’.
After the service, the family told the priest not to come to the cemetery.
Linda Hullibarger, Maison’s mother, said: ‘He basically called our son a sinner.
Adding: ‘It was what he wanted. He said nothing about what we asked him to say’.
Maison Hullibarger funeral service: Reverend Don LaCuesta overstepping his boundaries as a representative of the church?
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Detroit said that LaCuesta won’t be allowed to give sermons at funerals indefinitely.
‘We understand that an unbearable situation was made even more difficult, and we are sorry’, the archdiocese said, according to the Free Press.
‘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’.
A GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses surpassed its fundraising goal of $10,000, bringing in $19K from more than 300 people in just a week.
Nothing – not the manner of #MaisonHullibarger‘s life or the manner of his death, not the cruelty of Father LaCuesta or the failures of those who supervised him, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING separates Maison or anyone else who completes #suicide from the love of God in Jesus Christ.
— Kate Mackereth Fulton (@TheSecondAlive) December 15, 2018
Please pray for Maison Hullibarger, his family, this coach, the priest & for all victims of suicide.
I pray that Maison will go to heaven.
May God forgive all of us, sinners.@freep
MI couple: Priest, bully coach ruined son’s funeral https://t.co/4ILvHNrWD3 via @freep
— Patrick McCarthy (@LawyerMcCarthy) December 14, 2018