June 9, 2014

VATICAN CITY – A Canadian sister of Notre-Dame and two Italian missionary priests have been released unharmed almost two months after being kidnapped in northern Cameroon.

"It is with great joy that the sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame have learned . . . of the release of Sister Gilberte

Bussiere," said a June 1 statement from the Montreal-based order. Bussiere, 74, had been working in Cameroon since 1979.

Also released were Fathers Giampaolo Marta and Gianantonio Allegri of the Diocese of Vicenza, Italy.

The three were kidnapped April 5 in Tchere, about 30 km from Cameroon's border with Nigeria. Members of the Boko Haram terrorist group, active in Nigeria, were suspected of taking the three from their parish in Tchere.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, happened to be visiting Cameroon when the three missionaries were released the night of May 31-June 1.

He was able to meet them in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital.

The three "were excited and happy and, I must say, in good physical and psychological condition. Certainly the fact that they were always together helped them to support each other," the cardinal told Fides, the congregation's news agency.

A brief statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops June 2 expressed satisfaction that the three Church workers were safe and in good health.

In addition, Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, CCCB president, asked for prayers for others who remain victims of abduction, violence and hatred in conflict zones in Africa and around the world.