Michael Lapsley



Michael LAPSLEY, a priest from South Africa who works with victims as well as authors of apartheid and other forms of repression and exclusion, is publicly recognized for his disarming strength that has transformed wounds into powerful healing and reconciliation. The numerous comments and support received online focused on his courage, his approach for healing memories, and warmly recommended he be recognized as GLOBAL PEACE and RECONCILIATION INTERNATIONALLY-REPUTED PEACEMAKER for the 2016 Public Peace Prize.


Michael Lapsley

Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest born in New Zealand, was sent to South Africa at age 24. There he discovered the terrible reality that was Apartheid.

From Freedom Fighter

Appalled by racial segregation so contrary to his pacifist and evangelical values, he quickly became involved in the struggle for freedom. He went as far as accepting to become the ANC’s chaplain, a position which exposed him to every danger. As a white priest, his brave words and natural charism made him a marked man. Because of the death threats he received, he went into exile in Lesotho and later in Zimbabwe. This, however, did not impede him from working for a more equal society. In that country, on April 28, 1990, he lost both hands, an eardrum and an eye in a parcel-bomb attack. From that time, he was forced to live with a severe handicap – with hooks instead of hands and in need of assistance on a daily basis.

To Healer

He lived through a period of terrible pain and numerous surgical procedures. Yet, as he himself explains, he evolved from victim, to survivor, to victor. When the Apartheid regime fell, Michael Lapsley returned to South Africa and participated alongside his friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was asked to contribute to the Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture. He understood that, in order to attain peace, a vast undertaking of reconciliation was necessary. In 1998, he founded the Institute for Healing Memories (www.healing-memories.org) in which he has been involved with vitality and conviction ever since.

Healing the Past

Now at 65, he travels the world as an agent of reconciliation and peace. He facilitates healing memories workshops among inmates, refugees and the sick in numerous countries on every continent. His experience enables him to relate to those most wounded. Never one to be prone to discouragement, he managed to extricate himself from his ordeal with a strength which stemmed from humility and compassion. His autobiography, Redeeming the Past, My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer, has been translated into several languages.

For more information:

LAPSLEY, Michael, Redeeming the Past, My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer. With Stephen Karakashian, New York, Orbis Books, 2012.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael Lapsley


http://www.healing-memories.org/  Three videos that explore the stages of healing.

The Story of Father Michael Lapsley and the Founding of the Institute for Healing Memories. Video produced, directed and edited by Melvin McCray, 2014. Duration 15:49. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muJgx0TO48s in English with French subtitles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZJPkHWYmBc in English with Spanish subtiltes (La historia de Michael Lapsley y la fundación para la reconciliación).

Read all the nominations proposing Michael Lapsley for the Public Peace Prize (in their original language): http://prixpublicpaix.org/michael-lapsley/

To support this nomination for the Public Peace Prize, post a comment indicating the reasons why you would like this person to receive this distinction. Each comment will be worth three votes for this candidate.


Support and comments received in English

I have known Father Michael Lapsley for 32 years and he has always been an inspiration to me, as he has to countless others.  He has spent his life in the struggle for equality and freedom.  During the apartheid years in South Africa the issues were clear, but since then he has shone his light onto a broader scope of conflicts, including domestic violence and homelessness.  In the midst of strife, he has always been a voice for peace.  The fact that this was perceived as such a threat that he was sent a letter-bomb which blew off his hands shows the power of his voice.  Acknowledgement of his steadfast commitment would be appropriate, as he continues to travel the globe helping people and communities heal from trauma.  Thank you for considering him for this prize.

Rebecca Dyck


I would like to support Michael Lapsley’s nomination for Public Peace
Prize. An excellent candidate. I had the chance to learn about him
during his speaking tour this past summer.

Thank you,
Melvin Shantz


I heartily agree that Michael Lapsley would be a super candidate for this prize.
Good luck to him!
Dory Reimer


I would like to recommend Michael Lapsley as a candidate for the Peace prize. Michael’s unflinching commitment to peace and reconciliation has encouraged thousands of people to find hope amidst their own tragedies. For those working at peace and reconciliation, his life story has encouraged us not to give up no matter how bleak the situation might seem. His testimony at Christ Church Cathedral this summer was a powerful witness to the community that the darkness will not prevail as long as each one of us continues to seek to bring peace to our hurting world.

His humility, as well as his unpretentious manner, reminded us that the greatness of a man is not measured by power but by the lives of people touched.

It is with great pleasure that I recommend this recognition for a man who has done so much for the message of peace in the world.

Jean-Jacques Goulet


I wish to register my support for the nomination of Fr. Michael Lapsley for the 2016 Public Peace Prize. Listening to his story, his personal testimony and listening to those he has helped to deal with trauma has helped me overcome my own personal difficulties and realise that it is possible to achieve global peace with understanding and forgiveness. The realistic approach he takes, and the evidence of his work among communities he has worked with globally has convinced me to advocate for his work through the Institute for the Healing of Memories globally. Supporting his nomination for the award is my humble acknowledgement of the monumental work Fr. Michael Lapsley is engaged in in the Healing of Memories.



n recommending we honour the Reverend Michael Lapsley with a Public Peace Prize I believe we reaffirm that he touched us, moved us and inspired us to do more than we thought we might do for peace and justice in this world.   In my family’s case he did that in Calgary, Canada, and very far, far away from South Africa.  I fully support his nomination.  JR

James (Jim) Roy


I support Michael Lapsley

To continue to fight for peace and justice after such injuries seems to me something special.

Austin Smith


I support the nomination of Michael Lapsley.  I had the privilege of listening to him when he spoke at St. Ethelburga’s in London.  His humble thought provoking witness for peace and nonviolence is powerful.

Christine Laubin


Michael Lapsley has worked tirelessly in many different countries to support and  help people overcome situations that have affected their physical and mental states. Lapsley works on healing memories He speaks from the heart, and from experience, to everyone.

I have had the priviledge and joy of listening to him speak and then talking to him. Unconditional love and wisdom permeate his being.

Thank you,
Sharon Ross-Jones and extended family



148 thoughts on “Michael Lapsley

  1. I have been working with father Michael lapsley for the past two years. And I have never met someone with such qualities that he has, he is complete human who suffered, and still is suffering with humanity all over the globe for a simple reason of peace. forgiveNess according to me found new meaning in him aswell as healing. And as for us as a global community we are blessed to have someone like you to share our pain and celebration in life , you are truelly a good man and as for this award nomination you truelly deserve it , and may God help you win it for the people.

  2. I met Michael in 2004 when he hosted us for tea and cake and conversation about his work during and after Aoarthied. A holy and blessed man.

  3. I would like to support Father Michael. He is a great inspiration to many and has been helpful in the healing of memories for many thousands throughout the world. I admire and follow his work and the work of his community as well.

  4. For 13 years I have been inspired by Father Michael Lapsley and the work of his Institute for the Healing of Memories. It has been my pleasure to host him on several of his journeys to North America, where he has addressed issues of peacemaking on a global scale as well as in local local contexts specific to the places he has spoken. I whole heartedly endorse his consideration as a possible recipient of the Public Peace Prize.

    Rev. Tom Forster-Smith, Interim Pastor, Payson Park Congregational Church, Belmont, MA USA

  5. I hope his winning the Peace Prize.
    I read his book. It encouraged me to live in sincere faith and to have peaceful relationship with other people.
    He always stand by the wounded people.He taught me to heal my wound to live not lonely, but with people.
    I think what he has done should be known by all over the world. I believe he will encourage everyone and he is worthy of the prize.
    I pray for you,Father Lapsley.

  6. I believe he is worthy of the Peace Prize.
    He is always standing by wounded people and sincerely working for them.
    I think what he has done should be known by people all over the world.
    He will encourage everyone to understand ourselves and other people, to make real peace.
    I pray for you, Father Lapsley.

  7. A well-deserved price indeed and long overdue. The whole world needs individual and collective healing, and we can all make a difference. Father Michael is doing something very effective, I know firsthand as a participant in a Healing of Memories workshop, I was empowered to embark on my personal healing journey until I later became a facilitator just to help more people heal.
    His journey is living proof that yes even as nations we can overcome hatred, anger and pain and re-unite for God’s purpose.

  8. I wish to recommend Father Michael Lapsley. I regard him as a humble unsung hero and healer of the world.

  9. I was fortunate too attend a Good Friday service after the unbanning of the ANC at St Goerge’s Cathedral in Cape Town. Father Michael Lapsley offiacted at this service. What a forgiving and humble person. A man of God and a man of peace.

    He touched my life and so also the lives of others. He truly deserved this award.

  10. If Michael Lapsley does not personify a person dedicated to bringing peace to the world, I don’t know who would better qualify. He deserves the prize for his dedication, his sacrifices and his determination.

  11. I highly recommend the nomination of Father Michael Lapsley for the Public Peace Prize. Such a well deserving candidate!
    Katharine Davies

  12. I highly recommend Michael Lapsley as a candidate for the prize. His is devoted to good cause of peace, hope and reconciliation in our country. He is the beam of hope to our families. I have a brother who lost both hands and legs during the struggle; he was very suicidal until he met Michael Lapsley. Michael changed his life. He accepted himself as he is today he has a desire to live.

  13. Father Michael Lapsley is an excellent candidate for the Public Peace Prize because he reaches out to the public, i.e., every single one of us in order to heal the individual for society’s sake, to heal nations for the world’s sake. He brings peace, and teaches by example so that everyone of us is also in a position to exert our own capacity for peace.

  14. I support Fr. Michael nomination for peace prize. I have known him for the past ten years while working with refugees from the great lakes region. The healing of memories workshops with refugees have given them a new life after sharing their traumatic stories consisting of what they have witnessed in their contries of origin, on their long journey to South Africa and what they have been faced with in South Africa. Through his work Fr. Michael have given hope to many people around the globe.

  15. Father Lapsley’s unstinting generosity of spirit has helped everyone who knows him. His courageous triumph over terror makes him an inspirational life-saver for all of us exposed to the fear of violence.

  16. I have followed Father Michael for years. I first came to learn about him soon after his unfortunate incident happened which I read in the news in the 1980. He is an icon for the world of Peace, Forgiveness, Tolerance, Love, Reconciliation and all that the world needs to rid it of hatred. If there is one person in the world that deserves the Peace award then it is Father Michael. He has touched so many people’s lives by his exemplary life of humility, and helping people all over the world to understand the need for peace, forgiveness and wholeness.

  17. I would like to recommend Fr Michael for the Public Peace Prize.
    As someone who grew up in the war zone of the North of Ireland I have always asked the question, “why are we at war”. Fr Michael is one of those people who helped me understand the complex issue of why and especially the physiological effects of war, which is most important. His intelligence and sense of humor really do make him special.
    As his anointed driver when he comes into NYC I always look forward to our conversation on the way in from the airport on his important work in different conflict area’s around the world. Michael’s insight the effects and resolution of conflict is invaluable. A world treasure.

  18. I am honored and delighted to support fr. Michael Laysley`s nomination to this peace award… his suffering, long time service for peace and reconciliation are clear credentials. I have had the grace to accompany him in Brazil, Rome and South Africa. His dedicated consistency is source of hope and inspiration to so many!
    God bless and keep him always!
    fr. John Xerri, op
    Belo Horizonte, Brazil

  19. thar man fought for my freedom with his life, losing a lot in the process. I attended one of his workshops with my 83 year old mother, all I can say is that family strife has become a thing of the past. This is strife
    Chat I had come to believe could never be sold.
    He is indeed a man of peace, global to personal! He has devoted his life to this cause. I see no other way of acknowledging this.

    I love him.

  20. Michael Lapsley’s committed journey as a humanitarian is truly remarkable and inspirational. I am truly humbled by his deep understanding, love and care;his many profound workshops and the extent of his mission to heal the world. He leads one to deep inner peace where real turmoil resides, through personal encounter and psycho/social and spiritual intervention. He is certainly a worthy and exemplary nomination for the Public Peace Award 2015

  21. Fr. Michael has been a force for justice and healing in my life and the lives of so many I know and even more I don’t. He maintains a sense of grace and humor in all that he does which is miraculous because what he deals with is so heavy. I wholeheartedly support his nomination.

  22. Congratulations to Michael Lapsey on his nomination for the Public Peace Prize. He is a great inspiration to many through his personal and professional embodiment of forgiveness , peace and reconciliation.

  23. Father Michael has shown through his tireless work with marginalised communities that he is worthy of this nomination. His contribution to reconciliation and healing in South Africa and abroad is immense and immeasurable.


  24. His hard work in and around the world should win him the prize. His love for humanity and sacrifices he made is outstanding.
    May He win

  25. I would like to nominate Father Michael Lapsley for the public peace prize, As he is a wonderful role model for peace. His commitment to peace and reconciliation is commendable. I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to his story at a peace and reconciliation conference, in Seoul, Korea. The fact that he has been committed to reconciliation, rather then violence, after his very being was so violated.

  26. Fr Michael has in his workshops done amazing work in drawing people from diverse backgrounds together to listen & share Each others journey. This ministry Has developed into an international wave of healing drawing in all cultures. As a leader in creating opportunities for reconciliation and deep healing he is an excellent candidate for this award

  27. Michael Lapsley deserves this a many prices and awards for his never ending work for reconciliation and forgiveness. He will have my admiration and support.

  28. I would like to nominate Fr. Michael Lapsley for the Public Peace Prize. Fr. Michael’s life and ministry have embodied his commitment to working for peace. He has done so by directly challenging injustice, oppression and violence, even at great risk to his own safety, not in an abstract way. Such commitment deserves to be celebrated and affirmed.

  29. I first met Michael Lapsley in New Zealand about 40 years ago. Since then I have followed his activities in helping others to achieve a decent and just life. He dedicated his life to this work and very nearly gave his life for it. But his indomitable spirit has seen him carry on with it, in particular working to teach people that life is better when they work together for the sake of the whole community.
    Michael well deserves to receive this honour to recognise his work for peace and justice.
    Irene Gale

  30. I have worked with Michael for many years, including before he was bombed in 1990 when he came to Canada to raise awareness about South Africa’s apartheid system. I am well aware of his considerable talents and gifts. Anyone who can go through the ordeal he did, and emerge on the other side not bitter but hopeful, not broken but whole, and then go on to found a healing ministry that has spread to many corners of the world, is most worthy of the Public Peace Prize.

  31. It a pleasure to me to recommend Father Michael Lapsley for the Public Peace Prize.
    He is an excellent candidate .
    I personally got a chance to know him when he was in my country few years back and I was amazed by his courage and commitment to peace.


  32. I have known Father Lapsley for 10 years and 3 years ago had the privilege of working as a volunteer at the Institute for Healing Memories in Cape Town.
    Father Lapsley is a force of nature. For all his adult life he has worked for peace and reconciliation. His passion and commitment to the task remains undiminished. His impact goes far beyond his work because he inspires so many others by his example. After being in his company it is impossible to remain idle, however tired or frustrated you might feel!

  33. i would like support Michael Lapsley for the Public Peace Prize. As he is a symbol of peace to all South Africans, who had the privilege of working with him.
    Forgiveness – Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia
    Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offence, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
    Well Done Fr. Michael Lapsley…

  34. I definitely nominate Fr. Michael Lapsley for this Peace Prize. I cannot think of anyone else in my life who stands so clearly and strongly for peace and has dedicated his life to this cause.

  35. I have met Michael Lapsley on two occasions, some years apart. Both times the power of his sense of being utterly grounded in having come to a place where he has been able to forgive those who sought to kill him has shone through. That he has been able to build on his own experience to bring healing to so many victims of persecution and violence has contributed enormously to a hope for peace in our world.

  36. I would like to support Michael ‘ s nomination. He is an inspiration to all who believe in freedom for all human beings. He has shown us that life goes on in the darkest of situations and he has helped those who have endured the greatest of suffering.

  37. Fr Michael is a peacemaker par excellence. He has touched the lives of many people affected by conflict.

  38. Michael Lapsley, is a true leader who deeply understands the human condition. He has struggled for freedom and paid a bitter price but his unflinching determination to ensure justice, reconciliation and healing is demonstrated in his work for healing the wounds of the past. He deserves to be recognized in this way for his contribution to world peace.

  39. I can’t imagine a more perfect person for this.
    The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald
    National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, Canada

  40. Our God has really worked threw u father Michael doin the work that u do has encourage me as a person to go out an help other people also we r really blessed having u as our anchor at the institute of healing of memories may the almighty bless u an you really deserve this nomination Gods speed an b blessed Amen

  41. One of few Heros of struggle who has not stopped because South African nation is yet to reach it’s canaan as bible puts it!!

  42. I wholeheartedly support Father Lapsley’s nomination for this prestigious award. Not only is it due recognition for a life dedicated to justice and reconciliation, but it will send an important message about the kind of peace that we seek to build.

    Fanie du Toit
    executive director, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation

  43. Father Michael Lapsley is an excellent candidate for the Public Peace Prize. I met him first time more than 30 years ago in Harare. He has been a strong witness to us all both about justice and about reconciliation. He has my wholehearted support.

  44. my family has know Michael for many decades and are very impressed with his steadfast witness to Peace and Reconciliation and Forgiveness. we would very strongly endorse his nomination for the 2016 Public Peace Prize and wish very much that it is awarded to him. we would love to be invited to the ceremony if and when he is awarded this prize.

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