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The Institute for Healing of Memories-North America (IHOM-NA) is an affiliate of the Institute for Healing of Memories in South Africa, founded by Fr. Michael Lapsley to promote healing and reconciliation in the post apartheid years. In 1990 he survived a letter bomb sent by the apartheid regime, and has since devoted his life to facilitating the healing of others. He began the Healing of Memories methodology while working at the Trauma Center for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, South Africa, which supplemented the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who continues to be a patron of the Institute.

As the value of Healing of Memories workshops were increasingly recognized, the South African Institute was invited by partner organizations and governments in many other countries to conduct workshops, train facilitators, and consult on issues of healing and reconciliation. Since the 1990s, the Institute has provided Healing of Memories workshops around the world. In March 1999, the first Healing of Memories workshop in the United States was held at Riverside Church in New York City. Soon thereafter facilitators were trained to offer workshops in the United States. When this workshop was started with military veterans, it quickly was recognized again as a way to assist our veterans in finding a path of healing.

The retreat will be led by Fr. Michael Lapsley who will be in North America in May! The retreat begins with an opportunity for participants to meet with each other and continues with storytelling, discussions and sharing of experiences in small facilitated groups. There will be an emphasis on safety, respect, and confidentiality. Due to the generosity of underwriters, this program is FREE to all Veterans. Note that this retreat does not include spouses, children or friends of veterans.

What to expect when you attend a Healing of Memories workshop retreat:

The Concept: The workshop is a response to the emotional, psychological and spiritual wounds inflicted by war, human rights abuses and other traumatic circumstances. It provides a safe place for participants to explore personal histories and gain insight and empathy for themselves and others.

Workshop Goals: Participation provides a safe experiential and interactive way to overcome anger, loss, grief, and guilt, and can be one step on the journey to healing and wholeness. It contributes not only to personal healing, but also to the healing of interpersonal relationships.

The First Night – The First Step: You can check into your room at 3pm or after. We begin with a 6pm welcome dinner. The Opening Session introduces the workshop concepts and provides an opportunity for participants to meet with each other.

The Next Day: Storytelling & Discussions Continues. Individuals have time to share their experiences in small facilitated groups with an emphasis on safety, respect and confidentiality. There will be time for quiet personal reflection and integration. Tonight is for relaxing together.

The Final Day: The Journey Continues with storytelling and group discussion. The group now shares experiences, common themes and lessons learned. We have taken the first step on this journey of healing…and it is now time to look to the future! Workshop ends at 2pm.

Trained Facilitators:

Fr. Michael Lapsley, as seen above, is the creator and founder of the Institute for the Healing of Memories and the Healing of Memories Workshops. A brief history of Fr. Michael prior to the letter bomb is:

Alan Michael Lapsley, SSM, known as Father Michael Lapsley, is a South African Anglican priest and social justice activist. In 1973 he arrived in Durban, South Africa, as an undergraduate student. Soon thereafter, during the height of apartheid repression, he became chaplain to students at both black and white universities in Durban. In 1976, he began to speak out on behalf of schoolchildren who were being shot, detained and tortured. In the next 14 years he continued to work for justice and peace, speaking against the violence and in justice, Fr. Michael found his name on a “hit list” by the South African government and in 1990 the letter bomb he received in the mail changed his life forever … and because of courage and faith he continues to assist others in a path to healing. His book, Redeeming the PAST…My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer, continues to be a source of healing, courage and renewal for many.

13 years ago in Minnesota, this workshop was sought out for those wishing to assist veterans on a path toward healing. In 2013, Mike Wold, a Navy veteran of Vietnam from Minnesota who moved to Arizona, sought a place to hold these workshops for Arizona veterans. Spirit in the Desert and the Franciscan Renewal Center were honored to get involved with these retreats … and as we say, the rest is history! To date, Spirit in the Desert has hosted 7 workshops, and is continuing to raise funds that several can be done each year.


The workshop begins with dinner on 5/11 at 6pm, and ends at 2:30pm on 5/13. There is NO cost. Generous underwriters have made this healing workshop possible for all veterans. Please note that this is for veterans only, not their spouses, children, or friends. All information is kept securely confidential. This class is already filling up…don’t wait…please register NOW!

To Register Call: (480) 488-5218 and ask for Cyndy, or  (651) 687-9767 for Mike Wold, IHOM No. America Program Manager