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'I only wish I could put my arms around you and hug you': Sisters of the Holy Cross are grateful for missing colleague's return

Sister Suellen Tennyson left the New Orleans area 10-years ago to work in Burkina Faso in West Africa. In April she was abducted from her convent.

NEW ORLEANS — Marianite Sisters of the Holy Cross Ann Lacour and Renee Daigle say their prayers have been answered. 

Monday morning, they received a call from the FBI with an update on their missing colleague and friend Sister Suellen Tennyson

"Their first words were, we have good news, and my thought was the only good news we could possibly have is that you know where she is,” Sister Ann said.  

Not only did they know her whereabouts, the agents told them the 83-year-old nun from Kenner had been freed after spending nearly six months in captivity. 

“At the beginning of this whole thing, the word that stuck with me was surreal,” Sister Renee said. “It’s like I just can’t believe that this is happening. It’s almost that surreal again but in a different way.” 

Tennyson left the New Orleans area 10-years ago to work at a small church and medical clinic in Burkina Faso in West Africa.

She was taken from her convent there in the middle of the night without her glasses or medicine by at least 10 armed men. 

“We don’t know who it was that abducted her, but we know that there are various gangs throughout Mali and Burkina Faso trying to capture those that they feel like they can barter for in some fashion,” Sister Ann said. 

Sister Ann had a brief phone call with Tennyson on Tuesday. 

“She is very weak. She wants to be home. That’s what I can say at this point.” 

A defense official tells us Sister Tennyson was turned over by her captors to the U.S. Military in Niger on Aug. 29. The details on why she was released have not been made public.

“Everyone wants to know what happened,” Sister Renee said. “What did she go through? How is she now? How did she get rescued? We don’t have the answers to any of that.” 

What they do know is Sister Sue is alive, safe and back in U.S. hands. 

“My words to Suellen yesterday as we said goodbye was, I only wish I could put my arms around you and hug you,” Sister Ann said. “That day will come for each of us.” 

Tennyson is now asking for privacy and time to heal. 

A State Department spokesman released a statement that said in part, “The United States is pleased to confirm the release of a U.S. citizen in Niger (nee-ZHER) who had been held hostage in West Africa, and to share that this individual will soon be reunited with loved ones.” 

New Orleans Catholic Archbishop Gregory said in a statement, “We are deeply grateful to God, and to the women and men who made this possible. The safe return of Sister Suellen Tennyson, MSC is an answer to our most heartfelt prayers. We thank God that she is safe, and that she has been returned to the care of those that love her.” 

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