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American nun, 83, abducted in northern Burkina Faso

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American nun, 83, abducted in northern Burkina Faso

Prayers are encouraged for Marianite Sister Suellen Tennyson, who was kidnapped from her convent in Yalgo, Burkina Faso, earlier this week.

By Vatican News staff reporter

An nun from the United States, Sister Suellen Tennyson, has been abducted from a convent in a parish in Yalgo, northern Burkina Faso, where she had been serving as a missionary.

Bishop Theophile Nare of Kaya Diocese said the 83-year-old nun of the congregation of the Marianites of the Holy Cross was abducted overnight between 4 and 5 April by unidentified armed men who also vandalized the convent where she lived in community with two other members of her congregation.

“Until the search for her is successful, we remain in communion of prayer for the release of Sr. Suellen Tennyson,” Bishop Nare said.

Sister Tennyson, a New Orleans native, had been stationed in Burkina Faso since 2014. In Yalgo, she has been serving as a pastoral minister, and was supporting the people that worked in the parish-run clinic.

Prayers for Sr. Tennyson’s safe return

Marianite congregational leader, Sr. Ann Lacour, said she and the other Marianites are “first and foremost praying for Sister Suellen’s safety and for her release from her captivity,” noted a statement from the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Sr. Lacour also offered prayers for “all impacted by the action of this group, particularly our sisters who witnessed the vandalism and kidnapping.” She added that the congregation is in touch with government leaders who have pledged to keep them informed as they learn more.

According to reports, the other two Marianites at the convent, who were not kidnapped, said that a group of about 10 men attacked the convent at night while the sisters were sleeping.

Joining his voice to appeals for Sr. Suellen’s safe return, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans noted that “for many Sr. Suellen ministered to the people of the Archdiocese of New Orleans with great joy.”

“Today”, he continued, “we express our sadness and shock at her abduction and offer our prayers for her safe return. Please join me in praying for Sr. Suellen, the Marianite Sisters of the Holy Cross, and all who know and love her during this difficult time.”

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso, a country of about 21 million people, has been facing challenges in recent times amid the country’s political crises and the rise of extremist groups. Reports of attacks against civilians are numerous.

Yalgo, located in the north of the country, is close to Soum province where two attacks in November killed nearly 70 people.

In January 2022, a military coup overthrew the government of President Roch Marc Christian amid the deepening security crisis in the West African nation.

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