Father Michael Lapsley to Return to USAO Oct. 20 for Ableson Lecture

An image of Father Lapsley drinking coffee above the text "Healing the Wounds of History" and the time and date information for the lecture.
Anti-apartheid activist will deliver keynote address on trauma and forgiveness.

The University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma will welcome Father Michael Lapsley, a South African Anglican priest, anti-apartheid activist and founder of the Institute for the Healing of Memories as the keynote speaker of the fall 2022 Ableson Religious Reconciliation Lecture on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. in the USAO Ballroom, where he will deliver his moving talk “Healing the Wounds of History.” The lecture is free and open to the public.

“We are so thrilled both to resume our celebrated Ableson Lecture, and to welcome Father Lapsley back to campus with his message of healing, redemption and growth,” said Dr. Zach Simpson, professor of philosophy and religious studies. “With so much pain, trauma and strife within the world today, Father Lapsley’s message could not be more timely. His methodologies have proven effective for people who have lived through truly life-changing trauma, but his message is incredibly accessible and has important lessons for everyone in today’s world.”

Just three months after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, a terrorist group in South Africa targeted Lapsley with a letter bomb for his anti-apartheid activism, which he survived despite losing both hands and an eye in the blast.

He later founded the Institute for Healing of Memories based on a methodology he developed while working at the Trauma Center for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, which assisted the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission that Archbishop Desmond Tutu chaired. Since then, Lapsley has facilitated workshops that seek to contribute to lasting individual and collective healing that makes a more peaceful and just future possible. His memoir, “Redeeming the Past: My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer,” received the Andrew Murray-Desmond Tutu Prize.

The Ableson Religious Reconciliation Lecture is named in honor of USAO Alumni Hall of Fame member and U.S. Navy Captain, Bradford Edward Ableson, a visionary in religious reconciliation and an architect of modern military chaplaincy. After graduating magna cum laude from USAO in 1980, Ableson embarked on a 25-year career in the Navy. He provided combat ministry to the Marines during the first Gulf War, served as an executive to the chief of Navy chaplains, as a special advisor to the U.S. Strategic Command and as a chaplain to President Bill Clinton. He died in 2009 at the age of 50.

For more information, contact Simpson at 405-574-1381 or

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