Tributes to Fr Michael Prior OM

 Vincentian priest Professor Michael Prior CM, 62, died in a fall at his community's house in west London last Tuesday. His funeral was held in the chapel at Saint Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham on Friday. Naim Ateek Director, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre writes: In Thanksgiving for the Life and Witness of Michael Prior "He died, but through his faith he is still speaking" (Hebrews 11:4c) It is with deep sorrow that we mourn the sudden death of the Rev Dr Michael Prior - a wonderful friend, a priest of the church, a meticulous researcher and scholar, a stimulating lecturer and educator, a liberation theologian, a courageous intellectual, and a passionate advocate and activist for justice and peace. The news of his death reached Sabeel in the early hours of Friday morning, 23 July, 2004. From the information we received he died in his garden at home from a massive heart attack. I have tried to find more details on the circumstances of his death; unfortunately, as yet I have not been able to do so. Michael devoted the better part of his life in the service of justice and liberation for the Palestinians. He visited Palestine/Israel on a regular basis, sometimes for extended periods. He interacted with people from all walks of life in the course of his research and analysis. He authored and edited a number of books on a variety of topics including those that directly addressed the different aspects of the conflict over Palestine. Among those were, The Bible and Colonialism - A Moral Critique (1997) (in English and Arabic), Zionism and the State of Israel -A Moral Inquiry (1999), and Speaking the Truth about Zionism and Israel (2004). In the last two years, he also founded and edited the journal of Holy Land Studies. Michael's passion for justice was unflinching and unshakable. He was compelling and provocative in his writings. He sought to expose the lies and deceptions that underlie the Zionist project and that led to the conquest of Palestine. He also showed how the Bible has been abused by colonial powers to oppress others. Although he has left us and we mourn his loss, he is "still speaking" through his books, lectures, and various publications. His voice will continue to be heard in many places throughout the world. His strong prophetic message will reverberate until justice for the Palestinians is done and peace and reconciliation are achieved in the Holy Land for all of its people. We give thanks to God for the life and witness of our brother and friend Michael Prior and we commend him to the love and mercy of God. Duncan Macpherson writes: Scripture scholar, liberation theologian, peace activist and advocate of Palestinian rights. Our Christian faith teaches us that our sad loss is his eternal gain. May he rest in peace!' You may not know of Michael's work, but if you have been to an Amos gathering of any sort on Palestine we are likely to have recommended at least one of his books to you. He was a leader for the campaigning community in his theological understanding of where the Bible fits in various colonialist projects, and on the erroneous basis (in terms of Christian theology) of Christian Zionism. We felt we had much yet to learn from him of his approach to the Bible, which certainly we at Amos found liberating and challenging. Michael was an excellent speaker and a committed activist. He did not just talk about injustice but he worked to change things. He will be missed in so many quarters - academic, campaigning, community and friends. His written work will continue to inspire and challenge us for many years to come.He is being buried in Ireland.

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