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‘Servant of God’ title granted to former FOCUS missionary

portrait of young woman

Diocese of Bismark

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/16/22

Bishop David Kagan issued a formal decree to inaugurate the canonization process for Michelle Duppong, a former FOCUS missionary.

On the feast of All Saints, Bishop David Kagan of North Dakota issued a formal decree to begin the diocesesan investigation of the life of Michelle Duppong, a former FOCUS missionary.

Bishop Kagan’s act grants the title of “Servant of God” to Michelle Duppong, marking the first phase of the canonization process.

Her cause is also on the agenda at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall meeting, November 15-16, 2022. The Bishops will discuss her cause and potentially offer their support.

This initial phase will include an in-depth review of her life. If the investigation reveals that her life was lived with “heroic virtue,” then the Diocese of Bismarck will recommend her cause to the Vatican for consideration.

After the Vatican is able to review her life, then the pope may grant her the title of “Venerable.”

Her parents, Ken and Mary Ann Duppong, spoke with the National Catholic Register after the Mass in North Dakota and expressed their joy, “Who would ever think that something like this would happen to us? … It’s humbling. It’s joyful. It’s so amazing. We are just so grateful that we were able to witness it in our lifetime.”

The story of Michelle’s life

Michelle Duppong was born on January 25, 1984, and her family moved after her birth to a farm near Haymarsh, North Dakota.

According to her obituary, after graduating from high school, she attended North Dakota State University, where she first encountered the ministry of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students).

She then became a missionary for FOCUS after graduating from college, and worked as a missionary for six years, mentoring, “hundreds of students at the college campuses of University of Nebraska – Lincoln, South Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, and the University of Mary.”

Duppong then became the Director of Adult Faith Formation for the Diocese of Bismarck, and on “December 29, 2014, Michelle was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer, which began a year-long journey that brought many joys in the midst of sorrows and suffering. She received everything with a docile spirit, praying that the Lord’s Will be done and trusting in His Providence.”

She died on Christmas Day, December 25, 2015.

Since then her life has continued to inspire many young people, who seek to follow in her footsteps.

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