83-year-old New Orleans nun kidnapped by armed men in West Africa, diocese says

According to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, an 83-year-old New Orleans nun has been kidnapped by armed men in West Africa. Sister Suellen Tennyson was kidnapped by armed men during a Monday night raid in Burkina Faso’s volatile northern regions, her diocese reported Tuesday.

Tennyson has been a member of the nuns’ community in Yalgo parish in the Kaya diocese since 2014. Before coming to West Africa, the 83-year-old served as a teacher and principal in Louisiana, notably at Resurrection of Our Lord Elementary School in New Orleans. She was also the provincial superior of the Marianites in North America, as well as the order’s congregational head.

The State Department stated in a statement that it is “aware of allegations of a missing US person in Burkina Faso.” It stated that it’s attempting to corroborate the information and monitor the situation.

Suellen Tennyson, according to Archbishop Greg Aymond, served the people of New Orleans with much enthusiasm for many years. “Today, we express our regret and dismay at her kidnapping, and we offer our prayers for her safe return,” said the Archbishop in a statement.

Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, has been controlled by a military dictatorship since January. Northern portions of the nation, where Suellen Tennyson was kidnapped, have been tense since Islamist terrorists launched cross-border incursions from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

In the last two weeks, multiple attacks have taken the lives of around 80 people, both civilian and military. Three European individuals – two from Spain and one from Ireland – were reported missing in April of last year after an incident in eastern Burkina Faso. Authorities reported they were “executed by terrorists” at the time.

Suellen Tennyson was abducted in the city of Yalgo, which borders the province of Soum. According to the Clarion Herald, armed organizations are particularly active there. Assaults on people have intensified in the region. “We are praying first and foremost for Sister Suellen’s safety and freedom from her captors,” stated Sister Ann Lacour, congregational leader of the Marianites of Holy Cross. “Let us also pray for everyone affected by this group’s acts, especially our sisters who saw the destruction and kidnapping.”

Hoping and praying for sister Suellen Tennyson’s safe homecoming. 

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