Fr. Michael Lapsley’s message – in brief – is that where there has been hurt and a tearing apart in our families, our communities, or our nation, there needs to be healing if people are to come together and move forward in any real way.
Fr. Michael’s work is centered around the reality that healing starts with being able to tell our stories; being heard without judgement; and hearing with our hearts the stories of those on the “other side.” Connecting with the reality of another’s pain, we find the common ground from which to rebuild.
Fr. Michael’s teaching style mirrors his message. Meeting on Monday, October 1 with clergy and lay readers from throughout the diocese, he first showed the video describing his own life and journey, and then invited each person in turn to share whatever touched her or him the most.
Some questioned whether they would be able to stand against an evil system the way Fr. Michael did. Others commented on the power of connecting through story; and still others on the humbling realization that we are all at some time or in some way both victim and oppressor. The need for reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous people in Canada was raised, along with an acknowledgement of the challenges involved in that process and the need for action as well as words. Several noted that, ironically, our churches are not always places where we feel free to tell our stories, or have the opportunity to do so.
To that end, Fr. Michael finished by encouraging the group to think through ways to create safe spaces and more such opportunities in our parishes: a fitting outcome of Fr. Michael’s continuing work as Honourary Canon for Healing and Reconciliation in Edmonton diocese.