Gilberte Bussière release welcomed by Montreal congregation

Officials with the Montreal congregation of Sister Gilberte Bussière today celebrated her release after the 74-year-old was abducted and held in northern Africa for nearly two months.

Quebec nun, 74, released nearly 2 months after her abduction in Cameroon

Sister Gilberte Bussière and two Italian priests working as missionaries in northern Cameroon were abducted in April from their residences by two armed groups in the western African country. They were released Sunday. (Radio-Canada)

Officials with the Montreal congregation of Sister Gilberte Bussière today celebrated the 74-year-old's release nearly two months after she was abducted in northern Cameroon. 

Sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame held a news conference Monday morning in Montreal.

"We are delighted and sharing in the joy," said the congregation's leader, Sister Josephine Badali. 

Badali said the congregation has been getting messages of support for Bussière from around the world that they are compiling into a book for the newly released nun and her family. 

Badali said Bussière asked her to thank everyone who prayed for her freedom. 

The congregation could not confirm when Bussière will return to Canada, but said she'll be back "as soon as possible."

She was still in Cameroon on Monday and was scheduled to meet with President Paul Biya. 

Badali did not have any details about the circumstances surrounding the unexpected release of Bussière and the two Italian missionaries who were abducted with her. 

The three were abducted in northern Cameroon on April 5 about 30 kilometres from the border with Nigeria.

Originally from Asbestos, Que., Bussière had worked in Cameroon since 1979. She was director of a school in Douvangar, and was working as a consultant at the time she was held in captivity. 

Gunmen connected to Boko Haram are believed to be responsible for the abduction of the three.

Boko Haram fighters have killed thousands of people in the group's fight to carve out an Islamic state in neighbouring northern Nigeria. They have increasingly carried out attacks and kidnappings in northern Cameroon.

Concern for nun's health

Bussière is reported to be in good health, which brought relief to the nun's Montreal congregation and family. 

The nun had been treated for cancer two years ago and there were concerns for her well-being. 

According to Bidali, Bussière found strength in daily prayers conducted with her Italian colleagues.

"They shared the word of God, prayed together, supported each other," Bidali told reporters. 

When asked if safety was a concern for the congregations' six projects in the area, Bidali said it was, but risk was also part of their job.

"They have the mission at heart," she said, pointing to the many risks lived by the congregation's founder, Marguerite Bourgeoys, in Montreal during the late 1600s.


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the last name of the nun released from captivity in Cameroon. In fact, the correct spelling is Sister Gilberte Bussière.
    Jun 02, 2014 11:59 AM ET