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Star Center Teleconference Series

Diverse Religious & Spiritual Perspectives on Mental Distress/Illness, Mental Wellness, and Healing

This enlightening teleconference featured a multitude of spiritual practitioners from various backgrounds including: a Tibetan Buddhist assisting mental health consumers in community & inpatient settings to connect with their spirituality, an indigenous Shaman from Ecuador, and a Christian Pastor leading a ministry to serve people living on the streets of Oakland, California.


Bob Manrodt (Tibetan Buddhist)

Bob Manrodt works as a Spiritual Supports Facilitator, contracted with the state of Pennsylvania, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. He offers presentations about spirituality & recovery, and leads groups on meditation, qigong, mindfulness, and WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan by Mary Ellen Copland) in state hospital and community settings. He works closely with the Pennsylvania Statewide Peer Network and offers assistance to consumer/survivors to connect with spirituality in whatever way is meaningful to them.
On a more personal level, Bob is a survivor of both serious mental and physical illness. In 1969 while in the throes of intense spiritual crisis, Bob was diagnosed as schizophrenic and hospitalized for six months in a state mental hospital. Bob is also a survivor of advanced stages of throat cancer. For most of his life, Bob has practiced and studied many spiritual and psychological teachings from several major traditions. These practices and teachings, particularly meditation techniques, are integral to his ongoing recovery journey.  At present, Bob is a Mahayana Buddhist in the Tibetan tradition who honors and supports most spiritual traditions from around the world.

For more information, see:



Rev. Dr. Jasper Lowery (Christian Pastor)

Founder & Executive Director of Urojas Ministries in Oakland, CA


Rev. Dr. Jasper Lowery was born and raised in Oakland. He is Founder and Pastor of Urojas Ministries in Oakland, which specializes in serving people with mental and physical challenges, taking them off the streets one person at a time. In its first ten years, his outreach ministry has touched over fifteen hundred families -- finding homes, jobs, and even family reunification. Rev. Lowery is Co-chair of the San Francisco Bay Area Action Council, and the Faith Advisory Council for Alameda County. Through the City Of Oakland he leads the Mayor’s Violence Prevention Act funded through Measure Y as an Area Team Lead Street Outreach. He assisted in the development of Clergy Cares, a group of local pastors addressing violence in their communities through street outreach, social service referrals, education services, health referrals, and crisis response to victims of violence. He is a member of the Planning Council of Alameda County Behavioral Health, as well as the Pool of Consumer Champions. 

Eduardo Luna (Indigenous Shaman)

Eduardo Luna Paredes is an indigenous Shaman from Quito, Ecuador, with a Ph.D. in psychology.  In 1999, he traveled to the USA for invitation by the science community of Washington DC to discuss the shamanic experience. Eduardo was chosen to represent the shamans of Ecuador, as ambassador of cultural exchange, to include the North American Tribes (South Dakota/Lakota Siox). He worked many years with the tribes. He is a descendent of the pyramids of Cochasqui, Quitu Cara Tribe (shaman). He is the fifth generation of the shamans of Ecuador. In the winter, he returns to the rainforest of the Andes, of Ecuador, where he comes from.

Eduardo works as a traditional shaman. He offers healing sessions, spiritual guidance, and ancestral studies in his home (and by phone) in Annapolis, Maryland.

His wife, Brianna Luna Pendleton, will join the teleconference to assist with language translation as needed. Brianna works as a clinical therapist at an outpatient mental health clinic and is conducting research on indigenous narratives on trauma, spirituality, and healing.

Rev. Laura L. Mancuso, MS, CRC/CPRP (Interfaith Chaplain -- Teleconference Facilitator)

Rev. Laura L. Mancuso, MS, CRC/CPRP is an interfaith chaplain who has worked for 25 years in leadership roles in the public mental health system at the local, state, and national levels. Laura served as the first Director of the California Mental Health & Spirituality Initiative. She was previously Director of Technical Assistance for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) and Project Manager with the County Mental Health Department in Santa Barbara, California. She is the author of the forthcoming STAR Center report, "Guidelines for Mental Health Consumers and Their Supporters: A Report from the NAMI STAR Center Workshop on Multicultural Competence, Intense Spiritual Experiences, and Mental Health."
As an ordained interfaith minister, Laura strives to honor all faith traditions, as well as the spiritual paths and life philosophies of those who do not adhere to any religion. She provides energy healing sessions in Santa Barbara, California and spiritual counseling by telephone nationwide.
For more information, see http://www.spiritofhealing.info  

STAR CENTER TELECONFERENCE: Diverse Religious and Spiritual Perspectives on Mental Distress/Illness, Mental Wellness, and Healing


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