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83-Year-Old Nun Found Alive and Safe Months After Being Kidnapped from African Mission, Her Order Says

Sister Suellen Theresa Tennyson

Sister Suellen Theresa Tennyson

A kidnapped nun has been found alive and safe, and she will eventually return to the United States, her order reportedly announced. Sister Suellen Theresa Tennyson, 83, was abducted back on April 4 from Yalgo, Burkina Faso, in Africa, the FBI previously said.

At least 10 armed men stormed the convent, taking only her, her order the Marianites of Holy Cross said, according to The Clarion Herald, newspaper of the archdiocese of New Orleans. Two younger women who lived there said Tennyson was abducted without her glasses, shoes, phone, blood pressure medication, and other items, Marianite congregational leader Sister Ann Lacour told the outlet.

“There were about 10 men who came during the night while the sisters were sleeping,” Lacour reportedly said April 6. “They destroyed almost everything in the house, shot holes in the new truck and tried to burn it. The house itself is OK, but its contents are ruined.”

In addition to the two young women, two other nuns also stayed at the convent. Authorities and the Marianites did not release information on how Tennyson turned up safe.

The FBI previously suggested she might have remained in Burkina Faso, but also could be in Mali to the north or Niger to the east. The Marianites got a letter, obtained by The Times-Picayuneshe is alive and in U.S. care in Niger’s capital of Niamey.

Lacour confirmed to the outlet that Tennyson is alive, but declined to discuss anymore in order to preserve Tennyson’s privacy and enable a safe trip home.

“We have no statement to make at this time other than she is safe,” she said.

She told the Clarion Herald that Tennyson was recovered Monday morning. She spoke to her over the phone.

“She’s totally worn out,” Lacour said. “I told her how much people love her, and she doesn’t have anything to worry about. I told her, ‘You are alive and safe. That’s all that matters.’”

“She eventually will get back to the United States,” she added.

Tennyson is from the New Orleans archdiocese. She formerly worked as a teacher and principal at Louisiana elementary and high schools, according to NOLA. After serving as superior general for the Marianite order, she went to Burkina Faso to minister to what the outlet described as starving and malnourished children. She stayed even amid increasing violence in the nation and Marianite colleagues suggested she return to the stays. She stayed out of a sense of spiritual duty, the outlet reported.

“I’m so thrilled,” childhood friend Ruby Faucheux Keefe, 85, told the Herald of Tennyson being found. “I’ve been thinking about her every day. This has made my day. We grew up together.”

I am incredibly grateful to hear that my constituent, Sister Suellen Tennyson, is safe and is finally in American hands following months in captivity after being kidnapped in Burkina Faso,” U.S. Congressman Try A. Carter wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “Sending strength and prayers to her as she recovers from this devastating experience.”

“Thanks be to God!!!!” the Archdiocese of New Orleans wrote on Facebook.

[Image via FBI]

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