Community Conversation to address mental illness as spiritual path

Community Conversations

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The monthly Community Conversation of the La Crosse Interfaith Leaders’ Coalition will feature Alice Holstein addressing the topic of “Tough Grace: Mental Illness as a Spiritual Path” at noon Wednesday, March 18, at English Lutheran Church at 1509 King St.

The meeting, which lasts until 1 p.m., includes a free-will offering lunch.

Holstein, a La Crosse native who left the area for 40 years, began her work life as a Vietnam-era Air Force intelligence officer, then worked full-time while pursuing a doctorate in organization development. In 1977, she went into business for herself and taught part-time for the University of Northern Colorado. She lost her 20-plus year career when she was diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder at age 51.

After experiencing a punishing journey that included periodically living on the streets, Holstein developed a revolutionary view of mental illness as a sacred path with deep meaning, opportunities for growth and gifts. She continued to experience troubles but went back to work at age 65 as a peer support specialist at the La Crosse VA Mental Health Clinic. She has written four books, as well as numerous articles and essays at her website. A member of the board of directors of the Mental Health Coalition of the Greater La Crosse Area, she now provides spiritual companion services.

The coalition asks that those who plan to attend register online in advance to allow planning for materials and lunch.

The coalition’s Community Conversations, which take place at noon on the third Wednesday of the month, are intended to present theological, nonpartisan and nonpolitical conversations about local economic and social issues.

If you have questions about the Interfaith Leaders Coalition or Community Conversations, contact English Lutheran Pastor Mark Solyst at (608) 784-9335 or via email at