University of Toledo freshman Maison Hullibarger killed himself on Dec. 4. He was 18. Hullibarger’s Dec. 8 funeral in Michigan was spoiled by not only the Catholic priest overseeing the service, but his former high school football coach who wasn’t invited. Quite a team effort.
The Detroit Free Press spoke with Maison’s parents, Jeff and Linda Hullibarger, who said that Rev. Don LaCuesta used the funeral as an opportunity to explain why suicide is a sin. Even when respectfully asked to stop, he didn’t:
“We wanted him to celebrate how Maison lived, not how he died,” Maison’s mother said. Instead, when LaCuesta gave his homily to hundreds of mourners and family members, “It was his time to tell everybody what he thought of suicide, (and) we couldn’t believe what he was saying,” Maison’s father said.
“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.
“There were actually a couple of younger boys who were Maison’s age who left the church sobbing,” Jeff Hullibarger said. The bereaved father at one point walked to the pulpit and whispered to the priest, “Father, please stop,” but their pastor continued with statements denouncing the way their son’s life ended, the couple said.
The Archdiocese of Detroit apologized to the family in a statement to the Free Press. “For the foreseeable future, [LaCuesta] will not be preaching at funerals and he will have his other homilies reviewed by a priest mentor,” the statement read.
Ah, but there was a second shitty part to this 18-year-old’s funeral, as if one weren’t already excessive. Bedford High School football coach Jeffrey Wood showed up, even though he had been told through a friend not to attend the funeral:
“We’ve had four boys who played for him. He’s been bullying kids for many years,” Jeff Hullibarger said. His wife said she messaged through an intermediary that Wood was not welcome at the service.
“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.
After Wood was asked to leave, he posted this “on social media,” according to the Free Press:
“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.”
What a bad person! The school announced on Dec. 10 that Wood was “no longer affiliated in any way with the Bedford football program.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.