Michigan Woman Sues Over Priest Who Questioned If Teen Would Go To Heaven

WWJ News
November 14, 2019 - 5:28 pm

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - The mother of a Michigan teen who killed himself is suing the Archdiocese of Detroit for alleged harm she suffered during his funeral when a priest questioned whether her son would go to heaven.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Wayne County on behalf of the mom, Linda Hullibarger of Bedford Township, names the archdiocese, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and the Rev. Don LaCuesta as defendants. 

The Toledo Blade reports that Hullibarger and her husband said they met with LaCuesta to plan funeral services for their son, 18-year-old Maison, and made it clear they wanted the priest to deliver a positive, uplifting message.

The family said some of the teen's peers left the December, 2018 funeral sobbing when LaCuesta sounded off on the sin of suicide and "questioning whether the Hullibarger's son would be admitted into heaven." 

"[A>t our child's funeral, we were taken down yet again when it was a place that we were supposed to be lifted up. And we had no idea, no indication that was going to happen," Linda Hullibarger said, in a media release. 

The Archdiocese of Detroit apologized after the funeral, saying that LaCuesta would be preaching at funerals and he will have his other homilies reviewed by a priest mentor. The family wanted the priest fired; but, according to the complaint, Bishop Gerard Battersby confirmed the church believed what LaCuesta did was wrong, but would not remove him.

The family is seeking $25,000 in damages, to hold the church accountable, and to ensure that no further harm to the community.

A message seeking comment on the lawsuit was left for the archdiocese on Thursday.