Ogema resident Angel Krueger, 16, is pictured with boyfriend Rafael Rezutek at a family wedding. After the couple started dating, Krueger became interested in learning more about the Catholic faith. Her interest was spurred by conversations and books the Rezutek family shared with the teen, who will be making her first Communion at Easter. (Submitted photo)
Catholic Herald Staff
From sitting in on religious education classes to reading and asking questions to one-on-one instruction, 16-year-old Angel Krueger’s study of the Catholic faith has been an individualized and personal pursuit.
The teen was only somewhat familiar with Rib Lake’s Good Shepherd Catholic Church when she started dating a parish member, Rafael Rezutek. Curious, Krueger attended a few of the catechism classes her boyfriend and some of his siblings attended.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, shutting down the classes and most activity at the church, but it did not deter Krueger’s interest or personal initiative to learn and study. Once adoration was made available again, she began attending with Rezutek and his family. She began going to Mass with them when public celebration of the Eucharist resumed.
The Rezuteks, a farming family who are active at Good Shepherd, have accompanied the teen but respected the process as a personal one. They have been open to sharing about their faith and answering questions as Krueger has asked, although she admitted that when she asks Rafael first he usually sends Angel to his mom for a better explanation than he feels able to offer.
Choosing to homeschool for the 2020-21 academic year, Krueger has continued to immerse herself in a “better learning experience” and has had time to continue reading and learning about the Catholic Church.
“I got more interested and asked if there was a way I could become part of the church,” Krueger shared.
She explained that her mom went to a Mormon church for a while, but then landed in a Lutheran church where Angel was baptized as a baby. Krueger’s spiritual path has diverged from that of her mother and two younger siblings, so she said the Rezutek family has been a strong support.
Another Good Shepherd member, Mary Kauer, has also been a big part of the answer Krueger received. Kauer has engaged with the young convert, who just turned 16 in January, in one-on-one classes.
Kauer described Krueger as a ‘delightful young lady’ and shared it has been a blessing to grow along with her through this process.
“I can definitely say that giving instructions in RCIC to Angel, that I have been honored and blessed. I have received so much more in return,” Kauer said.
She noted how seriously Krueger has taken this commitment, going “over and above” what she was taught in her RCIC lessons.
Krueger’s path into the Catholic Church is considered the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children rather than the more common Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, which is for persons over 18 seeking full communion as a Catholic.
Asked what her first impression of the church was, Krueger said the following:
“Every church has their order and what they do and how they do things. It was more exciting how the Catholic Church has everything set up.”
She explained further how the churches she’d been to taught about baptism and marriage as significant moments, but she has been drawn to how the sacraments in the Catholic Church integrates faith more across a whole lifetime of experiences and stages.
Krueger said that she’s still learning about a relationship with Mary – “It’s different.”
She has been surprised by the number of saints recognized by the church and agreed learning about them can be intense, with the violent ways so many martyrs gave witness to their faith. They’re not just Catholic celebrities but heroes who translated their experience of God in extreme circumstances.
The classes Krueger has gone through with Kauer have covered church history, the people of God, sacraments and liturgical seasons, among other topics.
“Angel was open to sharing her faith and witnessing to me when we met,” Kauer noted, adding she felt they both found it “quite easy to share our faith and relate how experience God in our personal lives. I am assured that she will be an inspiration for many others in the years ahead.”
Kauer mentioned that Angel has a smile that is contagious, something that could be heard in her voice as she described the dress she and her aunt shopped for at a consignment shop for her first Communion on Easter.
While there isn’t any big celebration planned, Krueger acknowledged the best thing will be being able to go to Communion every Mass after Easter.
“I keep getting so excited,” she said, as Easter draws closer.
She did admit that Rafael “must not get how exciting it is because he’s always been Catholic.”
The two would likely both be confirmed with their religious education class next year – a unique opportunity for the other students to have a convert in the group.
Kauer iterated what a “delightful young lady” Krueger is, as she continues “soaking up everything she can about the Catholic faith.”