alumni feature, fjv, love stories

FJV Love Stories: Celeste Kersey and Jim Bronec

My name is Celeste Kersey. I was a JV in 1985/86 in Kansas City, MO.  I went on to serve as an area director from 88-90 in Detroit, MI,  for what was then the Midwest Region of JVC.  After my 2 years as area director I chose to stay in Detroit and continued to be involved with JVC events. I met Jim Bronec in August of 1991 as he arrived from the west coast to start his year as a JV. I was 6 months pregnant and figuring out how I was going to manage being a single mom. Jim was always so kind and warm each time I interacted with him.

A month after meeting him I was with a group of friends and I called the JV's house (no cell phones back then) to see if they wanted to go to a dollar movie with us.  Jim answered the phone and was glad to go with us.  He said he would pay since he'd received a $5 tip at his placement with St Vincent DePaul.  I got off the phone and let everyone know he would be coming.  I added, "That Jim Bronec is so nice, I'm going to marry him some day!"

While it seems so remarkable to think back on our story of how a new, 24 year old JV and a pregnant, single, 28 year old FJV found their way to one another, it seemed quite natural then. We spent time together as I got closer to my due date and eventually expressed our feelings for one another when I was one week overdue (Dec 7 is the anniversary of our first kiss and Jim often marks the day with roses!). Naomi was born Dec 13th, 1991.  Jim was a support in so many ways as I transitioned from a single woman to a mom.  We managed to "date" while he completed his JV year.  I knew he was the one within a few weeks of being a couple.  His huge heart, integrity, dependability, and our shared values of faith, justice, community, and commitment made it obvious--I'd been waiting all my life for this man to be my partner!

He took easily to a gradual role of parenting Naomi. He has been the only dad she's known. We married in Detroit with our dear community and Bishop Tom Gumbleton and Gary Wright, SJ presiding. We moved back to the Oregon farmland Jim grew up on in May of 1994 and he transitioned to organic farming while I went on to complete my Midwifery education.  We had 3 more children--Faith, Olivia, and Isaac. Faith chose to be a JV in Peru from 2017-2019 and Olivia was a JV in Missoula, MT from 2018-2019 (she stayed there and fell in love with an FJV afterwards, but that's another story).  Isaac is at the University of San Francisco and we have hopes of another future JV in him. We are blessed over and over by our experiences as JV's and by the FJV community we are surrounded by in Portland OR,  just 45 min from our home outside of Canby OR where we continue to grow our crops, babies, values and our gratitude for this amazing love we have!


Celeste Kersey 85-86 Kansas City and 88-90 Midwest Staff

Celeste Kersey and Jim Bronec

Celeste served in Detroit 1985-86 and Jim served in Detroit 1991-92.