But the marriage soured, and 17 years later, the couple divorced, which Breen blames in part on their devotion to the Unification Church.
Married on the same day were Frances Biddle Drayton, a Philadelphia debutante and model, and Yoshi Ichijo, the son of a Japanese farmer. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, the Ichijos just celebrated their 30th anniversary, their faith in Moon’s spiritual vision unshaken.
“When I think back on it, we couldn’t have been more different. I like ballet; he likes football. I like the window up; he likes it down. But we really worked at our marriage, and there is an abiding love. We are so happy, I can honestly say it,” said Fran, who owns a dance school and lives with Yoshi, a chauffeur, in Gaithersburg.
Moon’s death Sept. 2 and funeral Saturday signaled the end of the random pairings that helped make Moon’s Unification Church famous — and infamous — a generation ago. To many, the marriages were a bizarre spectacle of social engineering and cult religion.
But for the roughly 50,000 couples matched by Moon beginning in the 1960s, the unions were the start of family life, albeit a life infused with a strange alchemy of the mundane and the peculiar. Sometimes there were silver anniversaries and grandchildren. Sometimes the marriages ended in estrangement and divorce.
Some successfully married couples swear by old-fashioned patience and secular self-help books as much as their faith in Moon, who was an international businessman as well as a spiritual leader. But it was common to avoid broaching marital problems, even to a spouse, because doubt in the match meant doubt in Moon and in God. After Moon, in 2001, decreed that they could, many couples expressed their devotion by matching their children, even children with serious developmental disabilities, so their offspring wouldn’t be alone in the spirit world.
But devotion to the church alone did not make or break the marriages, according to the Ichijos, Breen and others matched by Moon. Although the unions began in a crowd, they endured or failed largely on their own.
“The support and the pressures of the community kind of fades away when you’re in the trenches, when you’re in the kitchen duking it out. We fight just like atheists,” said Larry Moffitt, a Bowie executive with the church-owned Washington Times Foundation who just celebrated 30 years with his Moon-picked wife.