Detroit Archdiocese reprimands priest after homily during teen’s funeral sparks anger


The Archdiocese of Detroit has suspended a priest from presiding over funerals after his homily about suicide gained national attention and criticism. 

Rev. Don LaCuesta delivered a homily for Maison Hullibarger, an 18-year-old who took his own life, during which the priest denounced suicide as an act “against God who made us and everyone who loves us.” LaCuesta gave the homily on Dec. 8, four days after Hullibarger died, according to The New York Times.  

His parents, Jeff and Linda Hullibarger, said they had asked LaCuesta to focus on his life, rather than how he died, during the homily. 

“Maison didn’t deserve this,” Linda Hullibarger told the Times. “He basically called him a sinner in front of everybody. We were just blindsided.”

{mosads}Jeff Hullibarger told the Times that he walked up to LaCuesta and asked him to stop mid-homily.


LaCuesta in a message to parishioners over the weekend apologized for the homily. 
“I want all of you to know that I am working with the Archdiocese to ensure that I can serve more effectively in the future,” LaCuesta said in the message obtained by The Hill. “This work will involve some deep interior reflection – by myself and with the help of others – on how I could have missed the mark so completely in this case.” 
“Many of us know how painful it is when you unintentionally hurt somebody you are
trying to help,” he added.

The Archdiocese of Detroit in a statement on Saturday said LaCuesta was suspended from presiding over funerals for the time being. 

“The family wanted a homily based on how their loved one lived, not one addressing how he passed away,” the Archdiocese said in a statement. “We also know the family was hurt further by Father’s choice to share Church teaching on suicide, when the emphasis should have been placed more on God’s closeness to those who mourn.”

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