A Louisiana nun who was kidnapped in the West African nation of Burkina Faso nearly five months ago has reportedly been found alive and is in U.S. care.
Sister Suellen Tennyson, an 83-year-old member of the Marianites of Holy Cross, was kidnapped by armed gunmen in Yalgo, Burkina Faso, on April 4, the FBI said in a previous release.
On Tuesday, her order said she was alive and in U.S. hands in Niamey, the capital of Niger, The Times-Picayune reported, citing a letter that was sent to Marianites of Holy Cross members. The order did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sister Ann Lacour, U.S. congregational leader of the Marianites of Holy Cross, confirmed the development to the newspaper in a phone interview. She said Tennyson was alive, but would not comment further to maintain the nun’s privacy and to allow for a safe return home.
“Great news, Sister Suellen has been freed,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said in a Facebook post, sharing a news story on the development.
“it’s a prayer answered. Thankful for her safety,” he said.
“Thanks be to God!!!” the Archdiocese of New Orleans said in its own post. NBC News has reached out to the archdiocese for comment.
Lacour reportedly told the Clarion Herald, the archdiocese’s newspaper, that Tennyson had been “recovered” Monday morning, and that she had spoken with the missionary.
“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 said.
The Marianites letter, which Lacour reportedly signed, said Tennyson was awaiting a full health assessment, according to the Times-Picayune.
Where she goes next, the letter said, would be up to the nun following the harrowing ordeal.
The FBI and the U.S. Embassy in Burkina Faso did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday morning.