SEATTLE, Wash. — Social media posts made by Robert Fuller, the man whose assisted suicide was profiled Aug. 26 by the Associated Press, suggest that he scheduled his funeral with his parish days before his suicide, and that a priest had “given his blessings” to the suicide plan.
In a March 16 Facebook post, Fuller claimed that he had completed the legal steps required to receive a prescription of life-ending drugs, and that he had the approval of a priest to end his own life.
“I have absolutely no reservations about what I am doing,” he wrote. “And my pastor/sponsor has given me his blessings. And he’s a Jesuit!!!”
Fuller did not name the priest referenced in the post, and the pastor of St. Therese parish, Father Maurice Mamba, is not a Jesuit. Several Jesuits assist with Sunday Masses at the parish. Examination of past parish bulletins show that only one, Father Quentin Dupont, regularly celebrated the Sunday Mass that Fuller normally attended.
Father Dupont was the celebrant at the Mass on May 5, at which the priest, along with first communicants and other parishioners, extended their hands in blessing over Fuller.
Other posts on Fuller’s Facebook page recount that he met with parish staff as he planned the final days of his life, including a party held in the hours before his suicide on May 10, and his own funeral.
On May 4, Fuller posted details of his upcoming funeral, which he had arranged to be held in the parish on May 17. The May 19 parish bulletin from St. Therese included a notice of Fuller’s death, and confirmed that his funeral was held at the church on May 17.
In the same post, Fuller wrote that he had one week left to live. He thanked his “faith family” at St. Therese, and invited people to join him at Mass the next day and at his “end of life celebration party” on May 10 - the day he died.
The Archdiocese of Seattle did not respond by deadline to CNA’s request for clarity.
The Facebook posts appear to be at odds with a statement released by the Archdiocese of Seattle on Tuesday. That statement said parish leaders had been unaware of Fuller’s intentions at the time he received a blessing during Mass on May 5, and that the priest who led the liturgy had only been told Fuller was gravely sick.
In addition to the posts regarding his funeral and his pastor’s “blessing,” other social media posts by Fuller suggest that parish leaders knew about his plans to end his own life, and affirmed his decision.
On March 3, Fuller posted that he had arranged for one of the musicians at the parish to perform during his end of life “party” to mark his suicide. Three weeks later, he posted that a parish choir would perform as well.
“Today I asked our choir director if he and other musicians and singers can come perform during the first 1 1/2 hours and he emphatically replied YES. OF COURSE!” wrote Fuller on March 24.
An article on the Seattle Housing Authority’s website confirms that the Shades of Praise choir from St. Therese performed at the party.
Parish choir director Kent Stevenson also told the AP that Fuller’s suicide “was comletely in keeping with who Bob was” and that Fuller made the choice to die with “tenacity and clarity.”
Neither Father Dupont nor the West Province of the Society of Jesus responded to requests for comment.