Articles
“I have travelled the journey from being a freedom fighter, to being a healer. And in some small measure, my journey reflects the journey of South Africa. There was a time to slay the monster of apartheid. But now that we have democracy, it is time to heal, to reconcile, to rebuild.”Fr Michael Lapsley The Institute for Healing of Memories was founded in 1998. It grew out of the Chaplaincy Project of the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture, where Father Michael Lapsley was one of the founder members. Through his own experience of living in exile, losing both hands and an eye in a letter bomb attack in 1990, and listening to the stories of the survivors whom he counselled at the Trauma Centre, Fr Michael realised the importance of giving people a space in which their experiences could be shared and acknowledged.
The Road to Peace:Independence and Democracy in East Timorby Father Michael Lapsley, assisted by Johann Magerman We flew over many of the more than 13000 islands which make up Indonesia, on our way to Dili, the capital of East Timor which has been occupied illegally by the Indonesians since 1975. During the flight I asked myself what I thought I was doing going to a country in the middle of a war? I had been advised to wear a bulletproof jacket while there. I asked myself questions similar to those I had asked en route to Rwanda earlier in the year. What could we give the Timorese and what could we learn from them? Soon after arrival in Dili we were taken to Santa Cruz cemetery. The cemetery had attained international notoriety in 1991, when the Indonesian military shot and killed more than 270 mourners there. What we noticed immediately…
Bicycle Theology and the Journey of Forgiveness MANY PREACHERS speak as if forgiveness is something glib and cheap and easy. For most human beings forgiveness is something costly, painful and difficult. In South Africa, as the apartheid years came to a close, how to deal with the past became a pressing issue. Many of the beneficiaries of the old order wanted us to move on as if the past had not happened. Survivors and victims began to speak of the importance of reparation and restitution. Some Christian students began to speak of bicycle theology. Bicycle theology is when I come and steal your bicycle. Six months later I come back to you and admit that I am the one who stole your bike. “I am very sorry I stole your bike, Please will you forgive me?” Because you are a Christian, you say: “Yes, I do forgive you.” Of course,…
Beloved Australians With people of goodwill all over the world, I want to congratulate you as a people for the unequivocal apology to indigenous Australians made today in your national parliament by your Prime Minister. Of course Apology does not take away the truth of the wrong that was done and the pain that continues to be felt through the generations by indigenous Australians. Nevertheless there is no doubt that this representative acknowledgment and "saying sorry" can be balm in the wounds, a major step and a turning point on the long journey towards restorative justice and healing for all Australians.
The article below was published by the Sunday Independent 28 January 2007 Meeting Adriaan Vlok – the encounter that never took place...“I never asked questions because I did not want to know.” I was introduced by Professor Piet Meiring of the University of Pretoria to Adriaan Vlok – he said in a vague way that he had heard of me. Shortly thereafter we met in a small lecture theatre. Piet invited me to sit beside Vlok. Piet had called me a few days previously to say that he had invited the former Minister of Law and Order from the apartheid era and that we would share a platform in a session about forgiveness and reconciliation at the Southern African Missiological Conference in Pretoria in late January 2007.. I was slightly uneasy about the proposed encounter. When the famous “feet washing” incident took place, I was out of the country. I…
We Can Heal the Wounds Richard Naidu(posted on www.fijitimes.com 03 Dec 2006)He may have lost both his hands and an eye, yet by becoming a facilitator of healing for others, Father Michael Lapsley is, as he describes himself, a victor.Father Lapsley’s decade-and-a-half-long activism against South African apartheid, both from within and outside that State could have ended in him living the rest of his life bitter and a victim when in 1990, a letter bomb delivered to him in Harare, Zimbabwe, from the then South African Government destroyed his hands, an eye, and left his eardrums shattered, among other injuries.Yet today, this physically-impaired, soft spoken Anglican priest takes a probing challenge that he believes must be genuinely answered for healing and reconciliation to take place in nations that have experienced conflict.He believes individuals in such countries must be allowed to deal with how they have been affected by their nation’s…
Rwanda - 11 years after the Genocide – the road is still long. Fr Michael Lapsley,SSM As a South African I sometimes feel impatient when visitors from other countries seem surprised that in 11 years of democracy we have not finished dealing with the legacy of apartheid. We have travelled so far and yet we have just begun. So it is with Rwanda 11 years on. Despite great differences, Rwandese have shared with South Africans the big questions of how to build a different kind of society and how to deal with the past. It was my third visit to Rwanda – each time hosted by World Vision. This time I was accompanied by Ndukenhle Mtshali, one of our facilitators from KwaZulu-natal. Our visit was superbly organised by World Vision staff member, Josephine Munyeli. How would it be this time. I felt a need to ask people to pray for…
God 's Dream for Alice Springs in the Heart of Australia. October 15 to 30, 2004 brought to an end the planned contribution of the Institute for Healing of Memories to Alice Springs. We had been invited by the Anglican Diocese of the Northern Territory under the leadership of Bishop Philip Freier as part of its response to the Stolen Generation. The Anglican Board of Missions has provided strong support and funding during the last three years. Originally; although not to be, it had been hoped that a documentary film might be made during 2004 about healing of memories. That possibility lead this year’s visit to be divided into two parts. We held a healing of memories workshop in August. It was decided that Part II of 2004 would focus in four areas – work with indigenous youth, facilitator training, new contacts with particular organizations and (for the first time…
Encountering Darkness and Light in Rwanda In South Africa, 2004 is synonymous with the 10th anniversary of democracy and the joy associated with our first democratic elections. For the people of Rwanda it is the 10th anniversary of the genocide which preoccupies the nation. Back in 1998, I made my first visit to Rwanda. In some ways I had dreaded that visit. I worried about whether I had anything to offer to a nation still coming to terms with the enormity of genocide. When I was taken to genocide sites, I was anxious about how I would cope with the gruesome sight of thousands of bodies in varying levels of decay including large numbers who were slaughtered on the altars of churches. In 1998 the invitation came from World Vision and the visit was sponsored by a number of churches of varying traditions including the Roman Catholic Justice and Peace…
- Conference Report Robben Island 14 - 17 April 2004

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