Popular Chicago-Area Priest Removed For ‘Inappropriate Relationship' Joins Ministry in Texas

The Rev. Marco Mercado was removed last October by the Chicago Archdiocese, saying he was involved in “an inappropriate relationship with an adult man” has moved to Texas and begun working in hospital ministry. Mercado tells the Telemundo affiliate in San Antonio that “I’ve been able to refocus in my vocation, in my ministry, my priesthood. That’s why I’m extremely grateful for all the people who’ve supported me, all the people who’ve prayed for me.”

Sources tell NBC 5 Mercado initially returned to Mexico for several months after being removed in October as the rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines. However, now he’s received a new position in the San Antonio Archdiocese where its Archbishop Gustavo Garcia Siller has welcomed him. Garcia had previously been a bishop in Chicago.

The San Antonio Archdiocese released a statement saying “we have conducted our own independent review of the facts and, following that effort, as well as the counseling Father Marco has undertaken and his acceptance of responsibility in the situation in question, we are satisfied that he is suitable for ministry here.” The statement adds “we are working very closely with Father Marco through this process of rehabilitation as he seeks to gradually assume additional responsibilities in ministry in this part of the church in South Texas.”

Archbishop Blasé Cupich withdrew Mercado’s authority to minister. While he was in charge of the Des Plaines Shrine, it grew in popularity, each year holding the largest celebration in the United States each December for the Guadalupe feast day. At the time of his removal Mercado issued a statement saying “as a human being I am not perfect, but as a priest my priority has always been the work of the Gospel and the struggle for immigrants and the most vulnerable.”

This week Mercado says “I would love to be there, but we’re always together in prayer, always together in our faith, we’re always together in what we do together.”

A Chicago Archdiocese spokesperson says in a written statement,” the Archdiocese of Chicago removed Father Marco Mercado from ministry and withdrew his faculties in October 2015.”

The statement adds “Father Mercado decided on his own to leave the Archdiocese of Chicago and has informed us that he is seeking to incardinate in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. As a condition of considering any such request, the Archdiocese of Chicago sent Father Mercado’s personnel information to the Archdiocese of San Antonio in July. It is the right of every priest to request excardination” or transfer.

The Archdiocese of Chicago adds “it was not consulted on any further decisions taken by the Archdiocese of San Antonio with respect to Father Mercado.”

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