Chicago parish welcomes exiled Nicaraguan priest, recently released political prisoners

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Thursday, February 23, 2023
Chicago parish welcomes exiled Nicaraguan priest, recently released political prisoners
Fr. Erick Diaz arrived in Chicago after living in exile in Costa Rica and Miami after leaving his home country in August 2022.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Buena Park church is now home to a priest who has been exiled from Nicaragua. Fr. Erick Diaz, 33, is one of the youngest priests ever exiled from Nicaragua. Fr. Diaz arrived in Chicago after living in exile in Costa Rica and Miami after leaving his home country in August 2022. Fr. Diaz was able to flee his home country after he says he was tipped off that the government was coming to arrest him as part of a crackdown on religious leaders.

Now, Cardinal Blase Cupich has offered refuge to the exiled priest, allowing him to stay at St. Mary of Lake and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. This past Sunday, three additional former political prisoners and many members of the midwestern Nicaraguan community gathered at the church to hear Fr. Diaz preside over a mass of Thanksgiving.

"In solidarity with the suffering Church of Nicaragua, I have offered hospitality and welcome to a courageous priest who, with many of his brothers, stood with his bishop as a witness to the human rights of their people," Cardinal Cupich said in a statement. "The Church of Chicago is blessed to have him with us. We call for an immediate end to the systemic persecution of the Church in Nicaragua through false accusations, the closures of Catholic radio stations, the blocking of access to Churches and other serious acts that violate religious freedom and the social order."

An Archdiocese of Chicago spokesperson says Fr. Diaz will be in Chicago until it's safe for him to return to Nicaragua and plans to continue to celebrate mass at St. Mary of Lake and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.