My name is Renae Duppong
I was born in Bismarck, ND on February 7, 1986
I graduated from North DakotaStateUniversity (NDSU) with a B.S. in nursing
When meeting me for the first time, I might be a little quieter or one who won’t stop talking. Just don’t let me get in my story-telling mode! You could be sorry 😉 I’m a country girl who loves the great outdoors, music, movies, football, learning more about other cultures, getting to know people well, and especially getting back to North Dakota where I can be with family and enjoy life on the farm.
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved helping people. My family always used to say, “Renae’s going to be our nurse.” From an early age God gifted me with a compassionate heart and a desire to serve others. Yes, I would someday be a nurse, get married, have a family, and take care of my parents back home as they got older. I was “certain” that all this would make me happy, and I made these things the goal of my life.
I went off to college to achieve my dreams, but things started to change. Part of my life was great in that I had gotten involved in the campus NewmanCenter where I had many great Catholic friends, but my goals were beginning to fall apart. My grades began to suffer for the first time ever when I was halfway done with nursing school. I had done everything I could, and having nowhere else to turn, I cried out to God. “Help me, Lord! Help me out of this situation and give me the strength to persevere,” I prayed. And He did. The following days, weeks, and months, I began to experience God’s goodness and love for me for the first time in my life and knew that He had a plan for me…but I wasn’t quite ready to give up my own plans just yet.
Everything changed, and I made it through nursing school with a good GPA. Unexpectedly, another problem had arisen—having experienced Christ’s love, I now longed more (and felt a NEED) to share Christ’s love with others than to be a nurse. I worked as a mental health nurse after graduating because I hoped to be able to help people grow in their spiritual life as a means of finding hope and healing. Still unsatisfied with how limited I was in being able to share God’s love and reach others, I left my nursing career so I that I could share Christ’s love with young people like me.
I became a college missionary with a Catholic ministry called FOCUS where I was delighted that I could not only help others but also grow continually in my own relationship with Christ. Still, there was a void inside me. ‘What is my vocation???’ I still didn’t know what God wanted for my life, but I was always afraid and hoped that it wasn’t to be a nun due to negative misconceptions I had about the consecrated life.
…and I heard about the Apostles for the first time…
After my first year as a missionary, divine providence brought five of the Apostles to the FOCUS missionary summer training to spend a couple weeks with us missionaries. Shortly after they arrived, something inside me kept prompting me to talk with one of the Brothers of the Community—it was the Holy Spirit moving within me. I began spiritual direction with him and saw my life and my heart being transformed in tremendous ways over the next few months. Slowly I found myself being more and more attracted and open to the religious life to the point where I was no longer afraid of this beautiful vocation. I began to pray, “Lord, both marriage and the consecrated life are beautiful. YOU show me which will make me most happy, and I will follow You.” Gradually I recognized how much my heart desired to belong to Him and to be free to serve His people.
My first “true experience” with the Sisters came when I went on a Rome pilgrimage in March 2012 while I was still a FOCUS missionary. I visited the Sisters’ House of Formation there and loved everything I saw. I felt a connection very quickly with the couple girls in formation I met, and a huge part of me felt right at home. After that experience and seeing first-hand the beauty of community life, I returned home asking God to bring me closer to the Sisters for discernment, as I was developing a greater and greater affection for the Community. Once again the Lord answered. He then brought me to Kansas City where I was able to get to know the Sisters and the AVI charism better during my third and final year with FOCUS.
Where I am Now
As of September 2013 I will begin a year of “lived experience” with the Sisters in College Station, TX where I will continue getting to know the Sisters, learn more about the charism, experience community life…and study Italian!
My hope is that through all the experiences—good and bad—that await me in life, God would always give me the grace and strength to “be light” and to serve Him entirely and selflessly.