U.S. nun, 83, kidnapped in Burkina Faso

Three Marianite Sisters: Suellen Tennyson, Pascaline Tougma and Pauline Dourin, are pictured in an undated photo near the clinic where they serve in Yago, Burkina Faso. Sister Tennyson, 83, an American, was kidnapped late April 4 or early April 5 after armed attackers broke into the convent on the parish compound. (CNS photo/courtesy Marianites of the Holy Cross)

by Barb Fraze

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Armed attackers broke into the convent at Holy Family Parish in Yalgo, Burkina Faso, and kidnapped an American nun sometime between late April 4 and daybreak April 5, said the U.S. head of the sister’s congregation.

Sister Ann Lacour, U.S. congregational leader for the Marianites of Holy Cross, based in Covington, Louisiana, said 83-year-old Sister Suellen Tennyson was kidnapped “because she’s American.”

The order has not received any demands for ransom, Sister Lacour told Catholic News Service late April 5. She said the order was working with U.S. Embassy officials in Burkina Faso.

Speaking to Catholic News Service from the order’s worldwide headquarters in Lemans, France, Sister Lacour said three Marianite sisters — Sister Tennyson, Canadian Sister Pauline Dourin and Sister Pascaline Tougma, a Burkinabè — were in the convent on the parish compound with two Burkinabè women when the attackers, armed with guns, broke in.

Sister Lacour said she had spoken to Sisters Tougma and Dourin, who indicated the kidnappers were looking for money and medicine. “The only one kidnapped was the American.”

Yalgo is in northern Burkina Faso, not far from the border with Mali. Reliefweb reports that in the last two years, Burkina Faso’s northern and eastern regions have seen a “sharp deterioration in the security situation … due to the presence of nonstate armed groups.”

Sister Lacour, who has visited the Marianites in the country, said Sister Tennyson was serving as a pastoral minister, “to wipe tears, give hugs, import a smile. She really did support the people that work in the clinic that the parish runs.” People walked for miles to get help from the clinic, she said.

She added that Sister Tennyson is in good medical health.

“I don’t know if any of us are prepared to be kidnapped,” she added.

About the author


Catholic News Service is a leader in the world of Catholic and religious media.

Leave a Comment