June 4, 2024 // Bishop

Caleb Kruse, Oscar Duarte Say ‘Yes’ to the Priesthood

On Saturday, June 1, Bishop Rhoades ordained two men – Father Oscar Duarte and Father Caleb Kruse – to the priesthood for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

More photos from the ordination can be found here.

The ordinations took place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. Parents of both priests were in attendance, as well as siblings, extended family, and friends. Father Duarte’s grandmothers were watching the livestream from their homes in Colombia, and Bishop Rhoades greeted them and other family members in Spanish at the beginning of Mass.

Scott Warden
Father Oscar Duarte, left, and Father Caleb Kruse wait for the ordination Mass to begin outside of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on Saturday, June 1. It was announced following the Mass that Father Duarte would be assigned to St. John the Evangelist Parish in Goshen, while Father Kruse would be assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne.

Father Kruse was born and raised in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, where is grew up as a parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Fort Wayne. He’s also spent most of his life considering the priesthood.

“I can’t remember not thinking about it, to be honest,” Father Kruse told Today’s Catholic. He remembers watching Mass as a child and said, “I remember seeing the priest, thinking, ‘If God’s real, whatever he’s doing up there is super important.’”

Joshua Schipper
Bishop Rhoades preaches his homily as Father Oscar Duarte and Father Caleb Kruse, right, look on.

Father Duarte, ordained alongside Father Kruse, had a more circuitous route to the priesthood. He moved from Colombia to the Orlando, Florida, area with his family as a teenager. In high school, he and his brother began performing with bands. In a few years, Father Duarte was working for big names such as Disney and Universal Studios. But once Father Duarte achieved everything he had set out to do with his musical career, he felt it wasn’t enough.

“When I reached the top of what I was doing musically, that was when it hit me – the sense of emptiness, this spiritual void,” Father Duarte said. So he went on retreat, and in his words, “everything changed.” Father Duarte said, “God made Himself very much known on this retreat.”

After the retreat, Father Duarte quit everything he was doing with music and began more seriously exploring his faith, attending Eucharistic adoration and Mass more regularly. He began suspecting God had more plans for him when people began mistaking him for a priest. “It was pretty weird, and I began to realize that maybe there’s something here,” Father Duarte said. With counsel from priest friends, Father Duarte decided to go on another retreat with the Franciscan Friars Minor in Fort Wayne. After a couple years’ discernment, Father Duarte transferred into diocesan seminary with Bishop Rhoades’ help.

Joshua Schipper
Above: Father Oscar Duarte and Father Caleb Kruse lie prostrate on the floor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne during their Mass of ordination to the priesthood on Saturday, June 1.

Much of Bishop Rhoades’ homily at the ordination was spoken directly to Father Duarte and Father Kruse. The bishop referenced St. Augustine’s calling the priesthood amoris officium (or “an office of love”) and quoted Pope St. John Paul II’s words about pastoral charity, the priest’s loving gift of self. This love, Bishop Rhoades said, finds its root in Christ, in the Eucharist.

“The Second Vatican Council taught that pastoral charity gives unity to the life and ministry of the priest, and this pastoral charity ‘flows mainly from the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is therefore the center and root of the whole priestly life,’” Bishop Rhoades said, pointing out how fitting it was that the new priests would celebrate their first Masses on the feast of Corpus Christi the next day.

Bishop Rhoades added: “Pope Benedict XVI once said that ‘this is the profound meaning of being a priest: becoming the friend of Jesus Christ.’ Caleb and Oscar, friendship with Jesus must be the solid root of your life if you are to be good and holy priests.”

Bishop Rhoades then identified key parts of being a friend of Jesus, including repentance, service, and of course prayer. “Good friends don’t do all the talking. They also listen,” Bishop Rhoades reminded the two.

Joshua Schipper
Bishop Rhoades and Father Caleb Kruse, top and Father Oscar Duarte clasp hands during the ordination Mass, which was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on Saturday, June 1.

Bishop Rhoades also reminded Father Duarte and Father Kruse of the solemnity of this moment and of all their celebrations of Mass as priests. “The Holy Spirit who descends on you today will descend upon the bread and wine every time you say the words of consecration, transforming them into the body and blood of Christ,” Bishop Rhoades said.

Scott Warden
Father Oscar Duarte, left, receives a blessing from Monsignor Bill Schooler, and Father Caleb Kruse, right, is blessed by Father Daniel Niezer during their ordination Mass to the priesthood.

Father Duarte and Father Kruse both told Today’s Catholic that they were excited to celebrate their first full Masses as priests the next day. Father Duarte had incorporated his “first love,” music, into the Mass, as he planned to sing the whole rite. “The more I get to know the missal, the more I discover different parts and music that I don’t think I’ve ever heard before,” Father Duarte said.

Scott Warden
Priests of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend fill the sanctuary at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne during the ordination Mass of Father Oscar Duarte and Father Caleb Kruse on Saturday, June 1.

Father Kruse added that he is also looking forward to hearing confessions, considering “how to call [people] higher, how to guide them without shaming them, bring them the Lord’s mercy without saying sin isn’t sin.”

At the end of the ordination Mass, Bishop Rhoades made a surprise announcement. While acknowledging that he doesn’t usually announce priestly assignments at the ordination Masses, “I can’t resist,” he said. Father Duarte will serve at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Goshen, and Father Kruse is assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne – the parish in which he grew up. Father Kruse will also be serving as chaplain for Bishop Dwenger High School.

Joshua Schipper
The parents of Father Oscar Duarte and Father Caleb Kruse green one another during the ordination Mass.

“Thank you, Father Oscar and Father Caleb, for your ‘yes’ to the Lord today,” Bishop Rhoades said before the end of Mass.

When speaking to Today’s Catholic, Father Kruse expressed his deep gratitude for the diocese and the group of priests, as well as his peace about the priesthood. “The Lord has reminded me that it’s all Him,” Father Kruse said.

Scott Warden
Father Caleb Kruse, left, blesses Father Jonathan Norton following the ordination Mass in Fort Wayne on Saturday, June 1.

And, in the words of Father Duarte, “When you come to a place when you’re pretty sure God wants this for you, how can you not do it?”

Joshua Schipper
Oscar Duarte receives a hug from his mother following his ordination Mass.

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