Canonization Process Opened for FOCUS Missionary Who Died of Cancer at Age 31

University of Mary / Michelle Christine Duppong

“Courageously surrender your fears to Christ and boldly move forward in doing the good.”

Michelle Christine Duppong said these words in her Dakota Catholic Action “Run to Win” column on Sept. 4, 2014, approximately one year prior to her death.

Diocese of Bismarck Bishop David Kagan announced on June 15 that his diocese will begin an investigation into the possible canonization of this North Dakota native, former FOCUS Missionary, and diocesan employee.

Duppong served as a FOCUS Missionary for six years at the University of Mary. Then from 2012-2015, she spent the final years of her life as the Director of Adult Faith Formation for the Diocese of Bismarck.

Duppong died on Dec. 25, 2015 at age 31 from an unexpected cancer diagnosis. However, she endured the disease with “perseverance and a patient, cheerful spirit.”

“Michelle was a radiant, joyful woman with the heart of a true servant,” University of Mary President Msgr. James Shea said.

“For the students on our campus, she was an inspiration and a treasured mentor, teaching them by her example the transformative power of friendship with God.”

Bishop Kagan made the investigation announcement at the FOCUS New Staff Training at the University of Mary. 

“Michelle’s holiness of life and love for God certainly touched us here in the Diocese of Bismarck, at the University of Mary, and throughout FOCUS, but hers is also a witness which should also be shared with the Universal Church,” the bishop said.

“I ask, most especially, for your continued prayers for our efforts,” Bishop Kagan added. “Her life is a life of Christlike goodness, compassion, and the firmest faith I have ever encountered in any person.”

“Certainly, in your private prayers, ask for her assistance – her intercession – for you before the throne of grace. You will not be disappointed.”

Here’s the full announcement below:


Click here if you cannot see the video above.

The diocese will first investigate Duppong’s life, including her personal and public writings, as well as witness testimonies. Upon completion, the diocese will present this evidence to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican.

The Vatican will then declare her a “Servant of God” if they accept the provided documentation. The cause will then continue, and if there are no theological objections, she will enjoy the “fame of sanctity,” and veneration as a holy person of God.

The Church will then require one or more confirmed miracles attributed to her intercession for the cause to move forward.

Pray for the intercession of Michelle Christine Duppong! 🙏

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[See also: The 10 Incredible Saints Pope Francis Will Canonize on May 15, Including 3 Martyrs]

[See also: “No Longer an Atheist”: Activist Kaitlin Bennett Announces Conversion to Catholic Faith]

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Jacqueline Burkepile is the editor for the English edition of ChurchPOP. She is a journalist, former university campus minister, and a wife and mother. You can follow her posts on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.