The Archdiocese of Detroit regrets that one of its parish priests was unable to bring comfort to a grieving family at the recent funeral of their beloved son. Our hope is always to bring comfort to situations of great pain, through funeral services centered on the love and healing power of Christ.
Unfortunately, that did not happen in this case. We understand that an unbearable situation was made even more difficult, and we are sorry.
In light of recent reports, and in an effort to clarify misunderstanding, we are sharing a copy of the prepared homily Father LaCuesta read during the funeral. Names have been redacted to protect the family’s privacy.
In the homily, Father LaCuesta attempted to offer a message of confidence in salvation, affirming that “nothing – not even suicide – can separate us from the unconditional love of God.” Father LaCuesta also shared that because of God’s mercy, “he makes allowance for the spiritual, mental and emotional despair that leads to suicide.”
Referring to the individual for whom the funeral was offered, he affirmed: “We remind ourselves that he is not lost to God who seeks to save all of his children.”
We acknowledge, however, that the family expected a homily based on how their loved one lived, not one addressing how he passed away. 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.
Father LaCuesta agrees that the family was not served as they should have been served. For the foreseeable future, he will not be preaching at funerals and he will have all other homilies reviewed by a priest mentor. In addition, he has agreed to pursue the assistance he needs in order to become a more effective minister in these difficult situations. This assistance will involve getting help from professionals – on human, spiritual and pastoral levels – to probe how and why he failed to effectively address the grief of the family in crisis.
Father LaCuesta also expressed his regret in a message to parishioners following Masses at Our Lady of Mount Carmel this weekend.
In a continuing effort to offer comfort, the family has received calls from our Vicar for Clergy and the Auxiliary Bishop for the South Region of the archdiocese. In addition, Archbishop Vigneron spoke with the family to apologize and to offer an in-person meeting in the near future. They have accepted his offer.
We ask all to please join in praying for the family.