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Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck, North Dakota, begins the process for the canonization of FOCUS missionary Michelle Christine Duppong…

DENVER, June 17, 2022 — Bishop David Kagan,
Diocese of Bismarck, N.D., announced the opening of the diocesan investigation
which could lead to the beatification and canonization of North Dakota native
Michelle Christine Duppong. At the age of 31, Duppong passed away from cancer
on December 25, 2015, while serving as the Director of Adult Faith Formation
for the Diocese of Bismarck. Before that, Duppong had served as a FOCUS
missionary for six years. 

Bishop Kagan made the announcement at the FOCUS New Staff
Training at the University of Mary, saying, “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 video of the full
announcement is at

Born in 1985, Duppong grew up in Haymarsh, N.D. She earned a
degree in horticulture at North Dakota State University in 2006. While there,
she encountered FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and was so
inspired by the apostolate that after graduation she served as a FOCUS
missionary. For six years, Duppong mentored hundreds of students at the college
campuses, with her final assignment on the inaugural FOCUS team at the
University of Mary. 

In 2012, Duppong became the Director of Adult Faith
Formation for the Diocese of Bismarck, using her missionary zeal to bring
others closer to Christ. On Dec. 29, 2014, Duppong was unexpectedly diagnosed
with cancer and battled the disease with perseverance and a patient, cheerful
spirit, passing from this life on December 25, 2015.  

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

“Michelle’s daily ‘yes’ to Jesus and her obedience to the Lord’s will, even in the smallest things, has had a tremendous impact on so many lives,” said Curtis Martin, founder of FOCUS. “Michelle was a missionary of joy, and that joy is continuing to change lives. She lived everyday faithfulness extraordinarily well, and her authentic witness to the Gospel shows us all what it means to be transformed in, with, and through Christ.”  

The diocesan investigation, which involves the gathering of
evidence about Michelle’s life and deeds, will include witness testimonies and
the compilation of private and public writings. When this is completed, the
next stage towards the Cause for Beatification and Canonization is for the
evidence to be presented by the diocese to the Congregation for the Causes of
Saints at the Vatican. If the documentation is accepted for consideration,
Michelle would then be considered a “servant of God.” From there, the cause
could proceed at a steady pace, especially if there are no theological
objections and Duppong enjoys what the Church calls “the fame of sanctity” —
that she is venerated as a holy person — and there are one or more miracles
attributed to her intercession.  

A documentary entitled Thirst for Souls: the
Michelle Duppong Story
 debuted at the FOCUS New Staff Training and is set for its worldwide premiere
at SEEK23, FOCUS’ national conference,
being held January 2-6, 2023, in St. Louis, Mo.  


FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) is a
Catholic apostolate whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the Gospel.
FOCUS missionaries encounter people in friendship, inviting them into a
personal relationship with Christ and accompanying them as they pursue lives of
virtue and excellence. Through Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips
and discipleship, missionaries inspire and build up others in the faith,
sending them out to live out lifelong Catholic mission wherever
they are.  

For the 2021 – 2022 academic year, nearly 800 FOCUS
missionaries served at 205 locations, which included 22 parish venues across
the U.S. and seven international campuses. FOCUS alumni, now nearly 40,000
strong, are living and serving in parishes and communities across the country.
By 2026, FOCUS expects to have more than 70,000 alumni. An important
blessing of a fruitful partnership between the local campus ministry and FOCUS
has been the pursuit of religious vocations. Since 1998, more than 1,000 people
have entered the seminary or a religious house of formation after involvement
with FOCUS on college campuses. Based on past experience, FOCUS expects that number to nearly
double in the next five years. FOCUS missionaries are typically
recent college graduates who devote two or more years of their post-collegiate
lives to reach out to peers on campus.  

About the University of Mary: True to its motto
“lumen vitae” — The Light of Life — the University of Mary offers education for
the whole of life through cutting-edge professional programs and graduate
programs animated by moral courage and leadership in chosen professions and
service to the community. A private, co-educational Catholic institution, the
University of Mary welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds. 

A Christian, Catholic, Benedictine institution founded in
1959 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, Mary offers nearly
60 bachelor’s, 15 master’s, and five doctoral programs — in business
administration, education, nursing practice, occupational therapy, and physical
therapy. The 19-sport Athletic Department adheres to its Greatness Through
Virtue mission under the governance of the National Collegiate Athletic
Association (NCAA) and American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) conferences.
With more than 3,800 students, Mary has locations in North Dakota, Montana,
Arizona, and Rome, Italy, as well as vibrant online offerings. 

Anyone who wishes to learn more about undergraduate programs
at Mary can do so at, or
online offerings at,
by contacting an admissions representative at [email protected], or by calling (701) 355-8030. The University of Mary is one of only
15 Recommended Cardinal Newman Society Residential Colleges and Universities in
the US. 


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