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

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"The family wanted a homily based on how their loved one lived, not one addressing how he passed away," the statement said, according to the Times. "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."

https://www.google.com/amp/s/thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/421624-archdiocese-of-detroit-suspends-priest-from-presiding-over%3famp

 

"We have five other kids. Nobody could believe it," Jeff Hullibarger said. "I looked at the parish, and everyone had the same look on their faces."

Maison Hullibarger played for the Bedford High School football team in Temperance, Michigan.

As the priest's words ripped open the Michigan family's wounds, Jeff Hullibarger tried to intervene.

"After the first few times that he said that word [suicide], I approached the pulpit and I told him, I whispered in his ear, 'Father, please stop.' "

It didn't work.

"He didn't miss a beat. He kept going," Jeff said. "He said that word another handful of times. It made the worst day of our lives more worse."

The Hullibargers barely had time to process their son's December 4 death when they met with the Rev. Don LaCuesta to discuss what they wanted in the homily, to be delivered at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Temperance.

"We wanted it to be about family. We wanted him to talk about loving one another, lifting one another up and being kind to one another. That's what we wanted the homily to be about," Linda said.

Maison Hullibarger was a straight-A student and a freshman at the University of Toledo, his family said.

But once the priest started speaking at the December 8 funeral, "Not one word out of his mouth was about what we asked and what we talked about," Jeff said. "It was unprofessional and unacceptable."

LaCuesta had not responded to CNN's request for comment Sunday. But the Archdiocese of Detroit apologized to the Hullibarger family.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/12/16/us/michigan-funeral-priest-slams-suicide/index.html

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Anomaly

Not sure why he was suspended.  They were having a Mass for their son, and he stated that not even suicide separates you from God’s love.

It’s not like in the day that you could not have a Mass or Catholic burial for someone who took their own life.  

The kid was 18 and thought killing himself was a reasonable and viable solution to his problems.   That is a serious mistake and you have to be careful about the impression that is given to his peers.  It is a known fact that suicide is more likely if you know someone that took their life.  Also, the suicide rate is on an upswing for young people.  

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Josh
23 minutes ago, Anomaly said:

Not sure why he was suspended.  They were having a Mass for their son, and he stated that not even suicide separates you from God’s love.

It’s not like in the day that you could not have a Mass or Catholic burial for someone who took their own life.  

The kid was 18 and thought killing himself was a reasonable and viable solution to his problems.   That is a serious mistake and you have to be careful about the impression that is given to his peers.  It is a known fact that suicide is more likely if you know someone that took their life.  Also, the suicide rate is on an upswing for young people.  

The Priest shouldn't have discussed with the parents what the homily was going to be about then. Or if he felt uncomfortable with the parents request he should of stepped down from the funeral. The parents didn't want it to be made public that the son committed suicide. The dad even approached the priest during the homily and he ignored him and persisted. 

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Anomaly

Believe me, everyone attending knew it was suicide. 

I cant comment on what was or wasn’t discussed with the parents.  But it’s a Catholic mass for someone who took their life.   It can’t help but be Catholic.    It’s not a time for the priest to euligize.  That is for others to do. If the priest included any thing about hope for forgiveness of the act and agree to a do Catholic Funeral, he was compassionate enough. 

Other things may not have been to their liking, but going public and getting a public reprimand is too much, in my opinion.   (Keep in mind, I’m not Catholic)!  

 

It’s an awful horror to lose a child to suicide.  It can’t be sugar coated.   His family and friends will carry the grief and hurt for the rest of their lives.   I can certainly understand the parent’s desire to avoid suicide discussions, but it won’t change the reality.  A bit of error on the side of caution is tolerable in the bigger picture.  

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fides' Jack

No lay person should ever feel they have a say in what a homily should be about.  That's ridiculous, even at weddings and funerals.

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Lilllabettt

In this day and age most Catholics are completely separated from the reality of what a funeral mass is - a prayer offered for the soul of the dead person. I am a sacristan and believe me many families at our funerals would be outraged at the very idea that their love one might "need" praying for. But that's what the mass is. It's not a memorial service.  

Apparently this family also had a scene with their sons former football coach at the funeral. Their strong emotional response to things is completely understandable. It seems the very word "suicide" is too painful for them to hear. Understandable. Given the reality that Catholics are by and large divorced from the reality of what a funeral mass is, priests have to put feet down with care to avoid generating more heat than light. 

 

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Josh
5 hours ago, Josh said:

"After the first few times that he said that word [suicide], I approached the pulpit and I told him, I whispered in his ear, 'Father, please stop.' "

It didn't work.

"He didn't miss a beat. He kept going," Jeff said. "He said that word another handful of times. It made the worst day of our lives more worse."

"Once the priest started speaking at the December 8 funeral, "Not one word out of his mouth was about what we asked and what we talked about," Jeff said. "It was unprofessional and unacceptable."

 

The Priest could of brought up the word suicide once and made his point. But he decided to repeatedly keep saying the word and hammering home the point. And if the dad isn't lying about the priest talking to him beforehand about the homily then I see why he is so angered. Also I hope this priest at least every other homily talks about the evils of his fellow priests sexually abusing minors and kids. And all of the bishops cardinals and popes who have went to great lengths to hide and cover it up. That is just as evil as suicide. I hope he speaks on it frequently. Jesus said it's better to be drowned in the depths of the sea than to what these men did to those children. Hopefully this priest is consistent.

Edited by Josh

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Josh

"People told me there was almost a smirk on his face," Jeff Hullibarger said.

"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.

"Jeff Hullibarger and his wife, Linda Hullibarger, who live in Temperance, Michigan, said they had met with Father LaCuesta well before the funeral, going over in detail what they expected in the homily to be delivered by their pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Temperance, even watching the priest take notes in their meeting.

"At the funeral, after he'd lectured mourners about suicide, LaCuesta tried to keep Maison's parents from eulogizing their son, even though that had been agreed on well in advance, they said.

"I had words prepared, but when (the priest) was done, he was going to finish mass without giving anybody else the opportunity to say anything. He had the organist start playing and they were going to roll the casket out — some nerve.

"Our funeral director by this time was at the front of the church. We had to have the funeral director walk over and stop the organist," Jeff Hullibarger said.

Both parents then walked to the front of the church and spoke to mourners, thanking them "for their kind words and kind hearts," Linda Hullibarger said. Her husband said he tried to steer the service back to words they'd suggested to LaCuesta.

"I said, unlike what was said previously, we would like to celebrate the life of Maison. I told them that Maison had a great effect on many people. He was passionate and opinionated.

"And we said we had a message for everyone — to be kind to each other, to reach out to those you care about, and to be sincere in your actions and to show love unconditionally" — exactly the behavior the couple needed but didn't get from their pastor, they said. As the casket was wheeled out, the couple told the priest he was not welcome at their son's burial.

Instead, at the gravesite "we gave our own blessing of Maison, with everybody who loved him," Jeff Hullibarger said.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.freep.com/amp/2308094002

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Josh

The coach :

"We knew Maison would not want him at his funeral. He did not treat Maison kindly. So it was our wish that he would not be there," she said.

The coach strode in anyway, prompting one of the couple's sons to demand that he leave, they said. Wood left but soon posted this on social media: “I was just asked to leave a funeral by a family member of a deceased football player. If you need someone to blame, I’m your man, I’m your fall guy. This is how society is when things go not as planned. We blame others for our own shortcomings. This tragedy is not about me or you. It’s about looking in the mirror as a human being and being real and honest with yourself.” 

After word about Wood's online sneer reached school officials, his coaching duties were terminated. The coach "is no longer affiliated in any way with the Bedford football program,” Bedford Schools Superintendent Carl Shultz said Monday on the district's website. Wood also had been teaching history in the district, and it was unclear whether he would continue.

The superintendent's statement also read: 

"The district holds all of its staff to the highest standards of professionalism (but) recently received allegations that those standards may not have been met by the coach. Therefore, we are in the process of thoroughly investigating those allegations.

"The district will take appropriate, firm, corrective action if the allegations are substantiated. To protect the rights of all involved parties, I cannot offer further comment regarding ongoing personnel matters."

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.freep.com/amp/2308094002

Edited by Josh

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BarbaraTherese

I think what Father did was cruel, insensitive and certainly lacking Mercy.   

"For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." (James Ch2)   

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Lilllabettt
12 minutes ago, BarbaraTherese said:

I think what Father did was cruel, insensitive and certainly lacking Mercy.   

"For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." (James Ch2)   

Idk. Did you read the text of the homily? I think this family is high-conflict. Which,  probably I would be too if my child killed himself. But reading what was printed from the homily, it doesn't seem cruel to me at all. Knowing the churchs teaching as I do I would appreciate it if someone in authority acknowledged my loved ones suicide and in the same breath assured me it didnt separate them from Gods love.

That said.

Once upon a time the purpose of the funeral mass was clear. The archdiocese in its response, suggests the purpose is to communicate Gods closeness to those who mourn. But that's nonsense. Comforting the living is a side thing. The mass is FOR the dead. 

Eulogies are not supposed to take place during mass. 

Just saying, I'll be really pissed if people at my funeral just go on about how great i was. Like visit from purgatory pissed. 

 

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BarbaraTherese

 

Catholic Dictionary HERE  "The disposition to be kind and forgiving. Founded on compassion, mercy differs from compassion or the feeling of sympathy in putting this feeling into practice with a readiness to assist. It is therefore the ready willingness to help anyone in need, especially in need of pardon or reconciliation."

https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/what-exactly-is-mercy/ "St Thomas Aquinas comments in his Summa Theologiae: “To say that a person is merciful is like saying that he is sorrowful at heart (miserum cor), that is, he is afflicted with sorrow by the misery of another as though it were his own. Hence it follows that he endeavours to dispel the misery of the other person as if it were his own; and this is the effect of mercy. God cannot feel sorrow over the misery of others, but it does most properly belong to him to dispel that misery, whatever form that shortcoming or deprivation takes” (STh I, q. 21, a. 3).

Mercy is a beautiful virtue and, according to St Thomas Aquinas, “In itself, mercy takes precedence over other virtues, for it belongs to mercy to be bountiful to others, and, what is more, to succour others in their wants, which pertains chiefly to one who stands above. Hence mercy is accounted as being proper to God: and therein his omnipotence is revealed to the highest degree” (STh II-II, q. 30, a. 4). "

A Funeral Mass is for the dead, not about the dead.

 

https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/421624-archdiocese-of-detroit-suspends-priest-from-presiding-over  "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.

Quote

 

Maison's mother said she had no idea the priest would deliver a homily so drastically different from what the family discussed.

"He basically called our son a sinner in front of everyone," Linda Hullibarger said. "We had no idea that he was going to do this. ... We've been lifelong members of the church."

 

 

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Lilllabettt
18 minutes ago, BarbaraTherese said:

 

Catholic Dictionary HERE  "The disposition to be kind and forgiving. Founded on compassion, mercy differs from compassion or the feeling of sympathy in putting this feeling into practice with a readiness to assist. It is therefore the ready willingness to help anyone in need, especially in need of pardon or reconciliation."

https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/what-exactly-is-mercy/ "St Thomas Aquinas comments in his Summa Theologiae: “To say that a person is merciful is like saying that he is sorrowful at heart (miserum cor), that is, he is afflicted with sorrow by the misery of another as though it were his own. Hence it follows that he endeavours to dispel the misery of the other person as if it were his own; and this is the effect of mercy. God cannot feel sorrow over the misery of others, but it does most properly belong to him to dispel that misery, whatever form that shortcoming or deprivation takes” (STh I, q. 21, a. 3).

Mercy is a beautiful virtue and, according to St Thomas Aquinas, “In itself, mercy takes precedence over other virtues, for it belongs to mercy to be bountiful to others, and, what is more, to succour others in their wants, which pertains chiefly to one who stands above. Hence mercy is accounted as being proper to God: and therein his omnipotence is revealed to the highest degree” (STh II-II, q. 30, a. 4). "

A Funeral Mass is for the dead, not about the dead.

 

https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/421624-archdiocese-of-detroit-suspends-priest-from-presiding-over  "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.

 

Please dont define "mercy" to me from the catholic dictionary. It reads condescending. For fricklefrack.

Do you know, that those who do not need mercy will receive none. Zero. 

One of the most "merciful" things that can be said at a funeral is that the deceased was a grave sinner in need of many prayers.

Doing the merciful thing -which I just described-is not advised in the modern day, since Catholics do not know their faith and will take offense.

Perhaps this family will now follow their son in committing the far graver sin of spiritual suicide. Because this priest did not sense the situation and provided them with an excuse, he will be accountable for that.

 

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BarbaraTherese
8 minutes ago, Lilllabettt said:

Please dont define "mercy" to me from the catholic dictionary. It reads condescending. For fricklefrack.

 

I had written the quotes about Mercy and then your post was advised, which I read and then posted mine which was already written, ready for posting.  

You have taken my post personally, which was not intended and apologies if my post came across as personal and condescending.  My intention has been to state what Scripture and The Church teaches about Mercy.

I think that Father intended well, but was "off the mark" to use his own words.

 

 

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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Lilllabettt
7 hours ago, Josh said:

 

Heres the text of the homily: 

"My heart goes out to you, Mr. & Mrs. [REDACTED], and to you 
[REDACTED]'s siblings: [REDACTED], to Grandma [REDACTED], to
[REDCATED]'s many aunts & uncles & cousins. It is with great difficulty that I stand before you knowing the pain and anguish you are going through. But I am aware, as well, that I am only a humble, unworthy mouthpiece. I ask God to use my words to bring the light, comfort and healing you need.

Is there any hope to offer in this moment? Must we only speak of our profound grief, our indescribable sorrow, even our anger and confusion at how such 
a thing could have happened? Is there any word from God that might break into our darkness like a ray of light? Yes, yes, a thousand times. If we Christians are right in believing that salvation belongs to Jesus Christ, that it does not come from us--and that our hand cannot stop what God allows for us, then yes, there is hope in eternity even for those who take their own lives.

Having said that, I think that we must not call what is bad good, what is wrong right. Because we are Christians, we must say what we know is the truth – that taking your own life is against God who made us and against everyone who loves us. Our lives are not our own. They are not ours to do with as we please. God gave us life, and we are to be good stewards of that gift for as long as God permits.

The finality of suicide makes this all the worse. You cannot make things right again. Neither can [REDACTED]. And this is much of the pain of it all. Things are left unresolved, even if it felt to [REDACTED] like this was the only way to resolve things. You want to turn the clock back and say, "Please don't give up. We can work through this pain together. " But now you will have to work through this pain by yourselves, or with those close to you now who will need to lean on you even as you lean on them.
On most people's mind, however, especially of us who call ourselves 
Christians, on our minds as we sit in this place is: Can God forgive and heal this? Yes, God CAN forgive even the taking of one's own life. In fact, God awaits us with 
his mercy, with ever open arms. Sacred Scripture says clearly: God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). God's abiding mercy is what sets us to ask for it. Although God doesn't dangle his mercy like a carrot, waiting for us to ask for it in order to receive it, we do have to believe in our hearts, express with our words, and show in our actions – that it is always 
there. God wants nothing but our salvation but he will never force himself on us, he will not save us without us. That's how much he loves us. Because ofthe all embracing sacrifice of Christ on the cross God can have mercy on any sin. Yes, because of his mercy, God can forgive suicide and heal what has been broken.

Because God is merciful he makes allowance for the spiritual, mental, and emotional despair that leads to suicide. God is able to read the heart, to know the whole truth of a person's life, and thereby to pass sentence with mercy. God knows 
something we must discipline ourselves to do in these moments – he knows not to judge a person's entire life on the basis of the worst and last choice the person made. 
God can look at the totality of a human being's life and celebrate all the good that came from it, even while taking seriously the tragic choice that ended everything. 
And then he shows his mercy and love in ways beyond our limited understanding.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God, the great St. Paul assures us (in that Reading we just listened to). Nothing – including suicide.

Who will bring any charge against God's chosen ones? St. Paul asks. It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? Christ Jesus sits at the right hand of God even now, interceding for this one who could not stand before God on his/her own. Truly, none of us can stand before God on our own. We all need Christ to intercede for us, to plead our case. And here's the good news: Christ has never lost a case!
What will separate us from the love of Christ? St. Paul answers that question with a display of words that cover everything he can think of in so little space. Not death or life, not angels or principalities, not present things or future things, not 
powers or height or depth or any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What did St. Paul leave out of that list? Nothing. He did not list suicide, but he did not list murder or gossip or greed either. He covered all of those things in the final flurry of words that includes anything else in all creation. No deed is too evil to 
be beyond the forgiveness of Christ. No tragedy is too great to separate us from the love of God.If that is so, if the Scriptures can be believed, if God can be trusted even in this, then it gives us hope and guidance for how to manage our sorrow and angerand loss. We give it all to God. We hope...we can only hope. We do not carry it ourselves. We try to give thanks for the blessings of life we knew and shared with [REDACTED], with this child of God. And we remind ourselves that he is not lost to God who seeks to save all of his children.

And so, we take great comfort and consolation in all this. Nothing-not even suicide-can separate us from the unconditional love of God. It is to this all- merciful love that we, through our prayers, entrust and continue to entrust the soul of 
[REDACTED]. Let us not deny him now of the help he needs most-our love expressed through our trusting prayers.

My dear friends, today, and in the difficult days to come, when darkness threatens to envelop and darken our hearts, let us raise high the bright light of our Redeemer and proclaim his saving mercy: Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for 
ever!"

 

5 minutes ago, BarbaraTherese said:

 

 

 

The above homily was described by you as cruel and lacking in mercy.

Really?

It's likely the most catholic thing I've heard read at a funeral mass - and I hear them said a LOT.

The homily above is exactly what would comfort me in the wake of a loved ones suicide. 

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