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Matching photo

December 31, 2020 in Blog

Forty years ago, Josef went to America.
I was the secretary-bookkeeper – Legal/General Affairs Manager of the Unification Church and One World Enterprises in Australia.

I was based in Melbourne where our church Headquarters was located. I’d been responsible for Canberra and Adelaide business and church centres from 1976 to 1978.Rundle Mall, Adelaide, SA

Adelaide 1977
Now we had just sent twelve of our members to America for a “matching ceremony”. My visa had just expired, so even though, I was the one going to the American Embassy on a regular basis to obtain the visas for our members, our church budget was limited. We had no idea when the next “Blessing” would be. Our church leader decided that those who had a current visa could travel and the rest could send a photo and paper application. So I filled out a blessing application form. I was asked: Who would you like to marry? What nation should he come from? What other characteristics do you prefer? I responded: “Father knows best”.
I had studied the Unification Principles and believed that Reverend Sun Myung Moon was a man of God. I believed that God was working through him and if anybody knew who was the right guy for me, then I could trust him. I had given up my nursing career at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to become his disciple.

Holy Wine Ceremony

Shortly after midnight, on New Year’s Day 1981, I found all our members, those who had not flown to America, scrambled all over my desk and filling my tiny office. I heard cheers and screams and laughter. I could not get to my desk. Then somebody said. “Austrian”. I asked “Who?”
Less than two weeks later, I went home to visit my parents. I had an introductory letter and photograph. I told my parents how I trusted Rev Moon and believed that he was an instrument of God. They already knew this because they saw how I had cut all ties to my “old life” to make a new beginning in 1975. My father told me in tears how he left his mother and Czechoslovakia because he could not accept the communist system. I had asked them for my uncle’s address in San Francisco when I had wanted to renew my American visa.
There were newspaper articles and I arrived home just as the TV news aired a story about the mass engagement ceremony in New York. They laughed and said, well you missed out, didn’t you?
We discussed about an hour or so and finally, I pulled out my photograph and said: “He’s Austrian!” My father looked at the photo and said, “Well, he’s quite handsome, isn’t he?” and that was the end of our discussion.
Josef and I exchanged letters and occasional phone calls over the next 18 months.

We finally met in New York

We finally met on my birthday when I arrived in New York three days before our official blessing on the first of July 1982, one and a half years later. Rev. Moon had just been given the marriage celebrant’s licence for New York State and we were encouraged to get legally married. There were many international couples. We were 2075 couples altogether. The ceremony was held in Madison Square Garden.
Josef and I spent all Monday arguing about the legal wedding option. It required an Aids test. That took three days. The wedding was on Thursday. We went to the head of the Oceania Unification Movement. Then we went to the leader of the Austrian Unification Church. Then we went to the head of the Blessed Family Department. By the end of the day it was too late to do an Aids test and I discovered “the Austrian way” of deciding by default. I know of one Australian couple who have a marriage certificate signed by Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

Video camera
1st PWPA Conference in Australia

We were together for three weeks. I came to Europe and met his family. Then each returned to our missions and I was back in Australia. The Church Headquarters moved to Canberra. I became President of Friends of Solidarity and an active member of a conservative political party. I became secretary to Professor’s World Peace Academy (PWPA) and published the proceedings of the first national conference, which I had filmed with a video camera.
Then I also organized the next two regional level conferences for PWPA.
We continued writing and calling. For a while we felt like we were pawns in a world war. Eventually all the other couples from our 1982 blessing were already living together. I resigned from all of my positions and duties and arranged to go to America where Josef had volunteered to work with CAUSA, visiting mayors throughout the USA.
I began working for Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy and became the book-keeper for our small local chapter of HSA-UWC (Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity) in Medford, Oregon.
Finally in April 1988 we were legally married in Jacksonville, Oregon, USA.

Jacksonville, OR, USA
George and Elizabeth Skruzny witness the wedding

My parents and youngest brother came to the wedding and accompanied us on our honeymoon trip to California. We met my uncle in San Francisco before returning “home” to Medford for Mother’s Day fundraising, selling roses by the roadside.

About the author 

Lilly Gundacker

Lilly Gundacker is an Australian living in Austria, now in Vienna. With a loving husband and gifted adult children' she excels at Communication, Family, Marriage and is an Organizational expert. As a retired International Civil Servant and dedicated Unificationist she motivates, inspires, engages, and makes a difference!

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3 years ago

Thanks for sharing! Love your stories.

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