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Michael Lapsley, S.S.M.

Michael Lapsley is an Anglican priest who serves as the director of the Institute for the Healing of Memories based in Cape Town, South Africa. Born in New Zealand, he joined the Anglican Society of the Sacred Mission (S.S.M.) in Australia, and moved to South Africa in 1973. While attending university in Durban in the mid-1970s, he served as the National Chaplain of Anglican Students, and then due to his political and social organizing efforts he was expelled from the country by the apartheid government.

Over the next quarter-century, Michael lived in exile in Lesotho, the United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe. Early in that period he became a member of the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC), which was then conducting an underground guerrilla struggle against apartheid.  For many years Michael also functioned as a chaplain of the ANC. From 1987-1990 Michael worked as a theological consultant and coordinated an ecumenical program of popular education about apartheid and destabilization under the auspices of the Lutheran World Federation.

In April 1990 in Harare, Zimbabwe, Michael was sent a letter bomb by the South African government.  In the explosion he lost both his hands, an eye, and his eardrums were shattered, among other injuries. After several months of recovery in various hospitals in Zimbabwe and Australia, in December 1990 Michael undertook an extensive international speaking tour reflecting on his own bombing and survival and the current situation in southern Africa. He finally repatriated to South Africa in 1992, and the following year became one of the first two employees of the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, a post he held until the end of July 1998. The following month he helped launch the Institute for Healing of Memories.

Michael continues to work to develop a model that will assist faith communities in the process of healing the psychological, emotional and spiritual wounds of violence. His ministry in South Africa addresses the ongoing trauma from the apartheid period, and he also travels the world to work with communities seeking to emerge from violence and injustice to nonviolence and just relationships. His writings address these experiences around the globe. Michael may be reached by email at info@healingofmemories.co.za