Family complains that Catholic priest used teen's funeral to condemn suicide

Rob Crilly
Parents of Maison Hullibarger want Catholic priest removed from post - Getty Images Contributor

The parents of a teenage boy who took his own life have condemned a Catholic priest who questioned whether their son would get to heaven while presiding over his funeral.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit expressed regret for the comments and said the Rev Don LaCuesta would not preach at funerals "for the foreseeable future".

But the parents of Maison Hullibarger said they wanted the priest removed from his post for the heartbreak caused.

"We wanted him to celebrate how Maison lived, not how he died," his mother, Linda Hullibarger, told The Detroit Free Press.

Jeff Hullibarger added: "It was his time to tell everybody what he thought of suicide, (and) we couldn't believe what he was saying.

“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.

They said they met the priest ahead of the service at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Temperance, Michigan, on December 8, setting out what they hoped to hear in a loving homily.

However, the Catholic Church has traditionally taught that suicide was an unforgiveable sin. It has only been in recent years that the stance has softened to forgive suicide in situations of extreme stress.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit apologised and said Mr LaCuesta would be removed from funeral duties and given extra assistance.

"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," it said in a statement.

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