They lost a teenage son to suicide, then sought compassion from their priest.
Yet, at the packed funeral on Dec. 8, the Rev. Don LaCuesta delivered words so hurtful that Catholic officials in Detroit apologized in a statement emailed to the Free Press.
Not good enough, the youth’s parents said. They want their parish priest removed from his post in Monroe County, south of Detroit.
[If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.]
“Everybody seems to understand but the Catholic Church,” said Jeff Hullibarger, father of 18-year-old Maison, a straight-A student and outstanding athlete who ended his own life on Dec. 4. The priest told mourners at the funeral that the youth might be blocked from heaven because of how he died, the couple said.
Adding to the family’s hurt was the appearance of their late son’s high school football coach, who’d bullied him and their other sons, they said. Although Maison’s mother, Linda Hullibarger, said she requested through a friend that coach Jeffrey Wood not attend the funeral, Wood showed up anyway, then was asked to leave.
He did so, only to post on social media a sneer at the family’s tragedy. That act got the award-winning coach, with a record of 77-38, relieved of his duties by the school district’s superintendent, according to a statement posted on the website of Bedford Community Schools.
Still, the Hullibargers said the rude incident with the coach pales beside the spate of jarring words they heard from their parish priest.
SOURCE: Bill Laitner
Detroit Free Press