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Couple pray together for stronger marriage, church unity

Carole Dillon and Jim Thiessen

Jim Thiessen and his wife, Carole Dillon, sit in their home.

Carole Dillon and her husband Jim Thiessen are part of a small group that meets at the Convent of the Holy Names to pray, say the rosary, sing and read from “True Life of God,” which compiles messages that mystic and prophet Vassula Ryden has conveyed for more than 27 years.

The messages Vassula receives from God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Mary reflect the message of the Christian faith calling for people to repent, love, reconcile, pray and work for peace and church unity.

Vassula, who was born in Egypt into a Greek Orthodox family, married a Lutheran from Switzerland and lived in Europe, Asia and Africa.  After a divorce, she married a Swedish Lutheran, who is a career diplomat.  They lived in Switzerland and now in Greece.

In 1998, she started the Beth Myriam project, a house to feed and educate the poor in the Holy Land.  Now there are 25 other houses around the world.

“The thrust of the messages given to Vassula is for the unification of the church—Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic.  The church has lost power by being split,” Carole said.

“We are called to live life in constant prayer, love and relationship with Jesus,” said Carole who grew up Catholic.

 She and Jim, who grew up Baptist, graduated from West Valley High School.

Carole has worked for 43 years as a respiratory therapist at Sacred Heart, after completing a respiratory therapy class in 1971 at Spokane Community College.  Jim sold health and beauty products, crackers, cookies and soda pop in the Tri Cities and Yakima. 

In 2001, he moved back to Spokane.  Both had married and divorced.  Each has three children and several grandchildren.

In 2005, before they married, he became Catholic.  Jim, who retired three years ago, now sings in the choir and a schola men’s group at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where they attend.

“I didn’t want to be married but spiritually single,” Carole said.

They pray together each morning before she goes to work.

“Praying together has made a difference in our marriage,” she said.  “As we pray for intentions, we learn what is up with each other.  It’s a great way to communicate.”

Carole also finds that prayer helps her be more compassionate with the circumstances of her patients, especially some who are indigent and do not take care of themselves because of drug abuse.

“There’s little difference between one sinner and another,” she said.

Carole lived next door to Sr. Mary Trenary, who was a Holy Names Sister.  Carole and Jim are now a Holy Names associate.

“She introduced me to the writings of messages Vassula has received,” said Carole.  “Not everyone trusts these kinds of revelations, such as Mary’s appearance to children in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovinia, in 1981, or in Garabandal, Spain, from 1961 to 1965,” said Carole.

Some people tried to dissuade her from being involved with someone who had such revelations, but she kept reading the volumes Vassula has written, and praying with them.

A Greek Orthodox man in Spokane helped start a prayer group at the Convent of the Holy Names, where several sisters were involved.

Pwin Berkowitz of Seattle, former co-coordinator, asked Carole if she and Jim would be the  Northwest Region coordinators for Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Carole is hopeful about church unity, because the messages Vassula receives promise that if the churches unify their date for celebrating Easter, the unity of the church will follow.

For Easter 2013, the Eastern rite Catholics and the Latin diocese in the Holy Land both adopted the Julian calendar used by the Orthodox and celebrated Easter on May 5. 

In 2014, Easter falls on the same day, April 20, in both calendars, so the change for these two churches officially begins in 2015.

Carole is also hopeful because Pope Francis, soon after his election, announced he would meet with the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

“There are always questions about revelations, such as those of Vassula,” said Carole.   “Usually the visionary needs to die before a decision is made about the visions.”

The movement reaches out ecumenically to other Christians, and also reaches out to Islam, Hindu, Buddhist and other faiths, she said.

“Vassula speaks about what is happening in the world, concerned that there are so many wars and so much violence,” Carole said.

She says that about 150,000 are involved in the True Life in God movement in the United States. 

For information, call 599-1114, email or visit

Copyright © September 2013 - The Fig Tree