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(LifeSiteNews) — A young American woman who touched many with her example of a joyful and devout Catholic faith is being considered for sainthood.

The cause for canonization is presently underway at the diocesan level for Michelle Duppong, a North Dakota farm girl who passed away from cancer on Christmas Day 2015 at just 31 years old.

Duppong, the fourth of six children of a devout Catholic family, was born January 25, 1984. She grew up on her family’s Haymarsh, North Dakota, farm where she learned a strong work ethic and a loving commitment to her faith, journalist Patti Armstrong wrote in an April 1 article published by the Knights of Columbus. After high school, Duppong attended North Dakota State University, where she studied horticulture and became involved in the Newman Center. Upon graduation from college in 2006, she became a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionary, serving on four campuses over six years and touching the lives of hundreds of students.

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Stephany Anderson, who met and became friends with Duppong when Anderson was attending South Dakota State University (where Duppong was then serving as a missionary), said that she “was an example of joyful sacrifice and missionary zeal.”

“Part of outreach on campus was hosting events to meet new people and invite them into a deeper relationship with Jesus,” Anderson said, according to Armstrong. “She, along with all the missionaries, modeled for me what it looked like to have the mission of Jesus always at the forefront of my mind and heart.”

Upon completing her time as a missionary, Duppong became a director of adult faith formation for the Diocese of Bismarck in North Dakota.

Cheryl Hansen, an employee of the Bismarck diocese, described Duppong as “very genuine, transparent, and sincere.”

“[S]he genuinely cared, if you were in her presence, you knew that she was attentive,” Hansen said, according to KXNET.

In late 2014, Duppong was diagnosed with ovarian cysts and assured the diagnosis wasn’t serious. However, she was scheduled to receive surgery to have the cysts removed. During surgery, it was discovered that she was suffering from Stage 4 cancer, not cysts. She was given only two months to live but survived a full year, passing away on Christmas Day, 2015.

Duppong accepted her illness, from her diagnosis until her death, with a spirit of peace and deep faith, Armstrong said.

According to an article published on a website with information about her cause for canonization, Duppong selflessly formed personal connections with the hospital staff.

“She would be concerned about their problems, not hers,” her father, Ken, said.

According to Armstrong, Duppong wrote a letter to Jesus shortly before she died, telling Him she wanted “to be a saint… a great saint that leads others to you — all for your greater honor and glory, of course!” She also asked Him to take care of the people she would leave behind, writing: “If you take me home soon, please fill my family and friends, along with the multitudes who have been lifting me up in prayer, with joy and peace, knowing that your love wins in the end.”

One of Duppong’s sisters, Lisa, said she heard Michelle’s voice clearly the morning after she had passed away. “As I woke up, I heard her voice, ‘Leese, it’s beautiful.’ Her voice was radiant,” she said.

Others would quickly contribute their personal experiences with Duppong and the holy influence she had had on their lives.

“We knew she had a lot of friends, knew a lot of people, but not to the extent that we were receiving cards,” Duppong’s mother, Mary Ann, said, according to KXNET. “But the cards, the letters, and the emails and phone calls came in one after another, sharing stories and personal encounters of how their life was changed.” Some people even reported having prayed to her and received assurance from her “that they will be okay, to trust in the Lord’s plan.”

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The “growing devotion” to the young North Dakota missionary sparked the investigation of her cause for sainthood, Armstrong wrote.

Bishop David Kagan of the Diocese of Bismarck opened the cause for canonization on All Saints Day, November 1, 2022, after “receiving letters from people attesting to the holy influence Michelle had on them both before and after her death,” according to Armstrong’s article.

The process for canonization in the Catholic Church begins with a diocesan investigation led by a bishop. It may then proceed to Rome, where the Congregation for the Causes of Saints may then declare the person a “servant of God.” Further investigation is carried out and claims of miracles are investigated, leading to the pope’s potential decisions to declare the person venerable, blessed, or ultimately, a saint.

To date, only 11 Americans, native-born or otherwise, have been declared saints in the Catholic Church.

In honor of Duppong’s ongoing impact on the lives of others, FOCUS even created a documentary about her life called ​​Radiating Joy: The Michelle Duppong Story. The movie has been shown to FOCUS missionaries and was played during a private showing at FOCUS’ national conference, called SEEK.