Missing nun found alive


Undated photo courtesy of Marianites of Holy Cross, shows from left, Sister Suellen Tennyson, with Sister Pascaline Tougma, a midwife from Burkina Faso, and Sister Pauline Drouin, a nurse from Lake Magantic in Canada

Abby Barlow, Staff Writer

Aug. 29, 83-year-old Marianite Sister Suellen Tennyson was found alive after five months of captivity in Burkina Faso, Africa. 

According to her friend, Sister Mary “Madonna” Baudier, Tennyson was rescued by the United States military installation in Niger. The Clarion Herald reported that Tennyson was home safe Sept. 13. 

Tennyson, who is originally from Kenner, was serving a mission at a convent in the parish of Yalgo when on the night of April 4, 2022, armed men raided the home that Tennyson shared with two other Marianite sisters and two young women and kidnapped her in the middle of the night.

Thomas Ryan, the university’s interim vice president for mission and identity, discussed the situation, saying, “Catholic mission work today strives to be culturally respectful and is concerned for the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. I admire Sister Tennyson and her commitment to work for and with people in Burkina Faso to promote health and human dignity.”

Tennyson served as a teacher and principal at several high schools throughout Louisiana. From an early age, she was called to help the less fortunate, and she eventually became a member of the Marianite Sisters of the Holy Cross, according to WWL.

After a lifetime of ministering around New Orleans, she decided to minister to children in Burkina Faso and established a church and medical clinic there in 2014. She felt an immense spiritual duty to stay there, despite the violence in the surrounding area, according to WAFB. Terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS operate in and around Burkina Fasoso, causing many people in the community to fear the worst.

According to Marianite leader Sister Ann Lacour, on the night of Tennyson’s kidnapping, 10 men came in during the night while the sisters were sleeping. She added that Tennyson was kidnapped from her bed by an unknown man and was captured with “no glasses, shoes, phone, or medicine.” 

The kidnappers vandalized the convent and took Tennyson to an unknown location. After her kidnapping, the remaining sisters were relocated to Kaya, Burkina Faso, Lacour told local media. 

Baudier, who grew up with Sister Tennyson,said she was incredibly frightened when she heard about the kidnapping. 

A lot of gangs in the area were taking people for ransom. We didn’t know what was happening to her, if she was being tortured, if she had food,” she said. 

For months, friends and family heard nothing about Tennyson’s whereabouts. So when she was found late last month, they sighed in relief.