Fr. Michael Lapsley’s Award

Father Michael Lapsley SSM was honoured with the Archbishop’s Peace with Justice Award at the December ordinations at St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town.

Born in New Zealand, he was ordained to the priesthood in Australia, where he joined the Society of the Sacred Mission (SSM). Arriving in Durban in 1973 as an undergraduate student, he soon became involved in the struggle against apartheid, working as national chaplain to Anglican students.

Speaking out vocally following the Soweto Uprising, he was expelled from South Africa in 1976. He moved to Lesotho, where he continued his studies and became a member of the African National Congress and a chaplain to the organisation in exile.

After a police raid in Maseru in 1982 in which 42 people were killed, he moved to Zimbabwe. It was here in 1990, three months after Nelson Mandela’s release, that he was sent a letter bomb hidden inside two religious magazines. He lost both hands and sight in one eye. This sinister attack transformed his life as he became a living witness of healing and reconciliation.

This work led to the establishment, in 1998, of the Institute for Healing of Memories. Through the institute, Father Michael exercises a worldwide ministry dedicated to justice and healing.

Photographer: James Mark Jacobs

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