Sr. Suellen Tennyson (Photo credit: Archdiocese of New Orleans, Facebook page) Sr. Suellen Tennyson (Photo credit: Archdiocese of New Orleans, Facebook page)  #SistersProject

American nun kidnapped in Burkina Faso has been freed

Sr. Suellen Tennyson, an 83-year-old American religious sisters who was abducted in Yalgo, Burkina Faso, five months ago, has been freed from the hands of her captors.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

A US Catholic nun, Sr. Suellen Tennyson, who was kidnapped in April by armed men in northern Burkina Faso has been freed, according to her congregation.

The 83-year-old nun, from the Order of the Marianites of the Holy Cross, was seized on 5 April at a convent in a parish in Yalgo, where she had been serving as a missionary.

“Yes, it is true! Sr. Suellen has been recovered! She is now safe and in US custody,” wrote the Marianites of Holy Cross in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Joy, gratitude

Further confirming the nun’s release, Bishop Theophile Nare of Kaya Diocese said, “It is with great joy and gratitude to God that we bring to everyone's attention that Sr. Suellen Tennyson, the Marianite nun abducted in Yalgo on the night of Monday, April 4 to Tuesday, April 5, 2022, has been released by her abductors.”

Bishop Nare said that there was no information about the conditions of her release. He, however, expressed gratitude to those who worked towards it.

“Sr. Suellen is now in a safe place and is in good health”, he said.

In the 31 August Facebook post, the Marianites expressed gratitude “for all the prayers and support these past 5 months” when the nun was in captivity, and requested prayers for her “complete renewal of body, mind and spirit.”

Kidnapped in April

Vatican News had earlier reported that Sr. Tennyson, a New Orleans native, had been stationed in Burkina Faso since 2014 before she was kidnapped. She was serving as a pastoral minister and she also supported the people that worked in the clinic run by the parish in Yalgo.

On 5 April, two other Marianite nuns were at the convent when it was attacked by a group of about 10 armed men.

The gunmen destroyed some of the nuns’ possessions and kidnapped only Sr. Tennyson during the attack.

So far, the identity of the nun’s kidnappers is unknown.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is one of the countries in the Sahel region of Africa which has seen concerning levels of violence fueled by extremist activities, and economic and political crises.

Militant groups linked to al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State are active in the Sahel region and have been known to carry out attacks against civilians in Burkina Faso and other neighbouring countries.

The West African country of about 21 million people has also seen some political upheaval in January 2022, when a military coup overthrew the government of President Roch Marc Christian.

Countries in the region continue to combine efforts to launch offensive operations against active militant groups.

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01 September 2022, 11:38