Worshippers stunned by priest's ouster from Des Plaines shrine

 
Updated 10/4/2015 7:49 PM

Shock, sadness and surprise were expressed by worshippers the day after a prominent priest was removed as rector of a Des Plaines shrine.

Rev. Marco A. Mercado was relieved of his duties Saturday at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe because of his "inappropriate relationship with an adult man," according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

 

The shrine draws more than 100,000 people for its annual observance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a 36-hour event on the Maryville campus at Central and River roads.

"I feel surprised, because, for me, he was a very good person and he helped out a lot here," said Georgina Rodriguez of Chicago.

"I heard he was a good guy," said Dexter Jasso, of Evanston, whose father attends the church. "He was a director. He was pretty much raising money for the church, and he had plans for making it bigger, growing it,"

Rafael Arizmendi from Rolling Meadows said Mercado had helped boost attendance.

"He was doing a good job," Arizmendi said. "From when they started with this church, it was a really few people. But right about now, you see a thousand people every day here."

Two worshippers, Valente and Rosy Coria from Skokie, said they want Mercado to come back.

"I don't believe what just happened. We heard the news, and we were really sad about it, because we know that he is a very good man. We want him to come back, because he is a good father," said Rosy Coria. "We are going to keep praying for him until he gets back here."

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Mercado is described on the website of U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez as Archbishop Blase Cupich's delegate to Hispanic Ministries. It also says Mercado was Gutierrez's guest when Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24.

The archdiocese announcement said the Rev. Adan Sandoval Duron has been appointed interim administrator, adding that Mercado will reside away from the Shrine, effective immediately.

The statement also read, "The Archdiocese is committed to ensuring those serving our parishioners are fit for ministry. Archbishop Cupich knows this news will be difficult to hear and he offers his assurance of prayers and solidarity with the community at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe."

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