Fr. Michael Lapsley, SSM, Healing the Diocesan Family

Posted on November 2, 2010
Father Michael Lapsley, a New Zealander by birth, was a young man living in South Africa and working as a college chaplain in 1976 when he was sent into exile by the Apartheid regime. Although he was never told why he was being exiled, he assumed it was because of his support of the students in the Soweto uprising. While in exile, he became chaplain to the African National Congress. Shortly after Nelson Mandela's release from prison, Lapsley received a package from South Africa containing religious magazines and a hidden bomb. In the bomb's blast, Lapsley lost both hands, one eye, and he was burned badly and his ear drums were shattered.

In an interview with the creators of The Forgiveness Project, Lapsley said "Quite early on after the bomb I realised that if I was filled with hatred and desire for revenge I’d be a victim forever. If we have something done to us, we are victims. If we physically survive, we are survivors. Sadly, many people never travel any further than this. I did travel further, going from victim to survivor to victor. To become a victor is to move from being an object of history to become a subject once more."

Lapsley returned to South Africa in 1992 and in 1993 he became chaplain of the Trauma Center for Victims of Violence and Torture. It was in this role that he became a principal participant in South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). To expand the work of the TRC, Lapsley established the Institute for Healing of Memories.

Although he devised the Institute for Healing of Memories to bring healing in post-Apartheid South Africa, Lapsley has been called upon by many groups who have experienced traumas that have not been healed. The Institute for Healing of Memories works throughout the world to help war veterans, immigrants, prisoners, those living with HIV/AIDS, and others.

Father Lapsley has been invited by Bishop Marc to work with groups within the Diocese of California who have unresolved or ongoing trauma in a program called "Healing the Diocesan Family." This work will commence with introductory sessions on the healing of memories process. Everyone in the Diocese of California is invited to attend one or more of these three introductory sessions.

When: Thursday, November 18, 6 p.m to 8 p.m.
Where: Epiphany, 1839 Arroyo Avenue, San Carlos
When: Friday, November 19, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Our Saviour, 1011 Harrison Street, Oakland
When: Saturday, November 20, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Where: Our Saviour, 10 Old Mill Street, Mill Valley