From a very young age, Chris Stepien heard unbelievable, true stories about the Nazi invasion and occupation of Poland. As children, his parents endured the horrors of World War II, while it unfolded in their peasant-farming village along the San River. First-hand accounts of their raw, real-life experiences gave Stepien a strong appetite for the drama of human conflicts, endeavors and perseverance. His curiosity grew into a passion for news and sports - and eventually the truth and mystery of Scripture.
Across five decades, Stepien has made a living asking tough questions in provocative interviews and telling intriguing, memorable stories. He’s determined to find a unique angle to share about each person or situation - whether that requires a spiritual rap song, a country-western band performing on a factory floor - or digging deep to investigate scandal or explore vital issues.
As a speaker, Stepien brings that same approach to every event. He has a natural gift for engaging individuals and audiences in remarkably candid conversations to lift hearts and souls. He has become a modern-day, Christian evangelizer who has also been active in interfaith organizations.
Stepien’s career has allowed him to collaborate with everyday people and household names, including:
The result: compelling TV programs, entertainment, advertising, marketing, videos and books that ring true - even when they’re fiction.
This first-generation American was born into the grinding rhythm of blue-collar Detroit, Michigan, where his parents immigrated after the war. The grit, muscle and turbulence of America’s auto capital shaped Stepien - including the churning cycles of triumph and struggle in the car business and its labor movement; Detroit’s 1967 riots; followed in 1968 by a legendary, come-from-behind World Series title for the Detroit Tigers.
The third of four children and a lifelong Catholic, Stepien attended parochial schools, served as an altar boy and was a championship high school debater and orator. On academic scholarship, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electronic journalism and communications from Detroit’s Wayne State University, graduating with honors - landing a job in the business while still in college.
Stepien launched his professional career with the American Broadcasting Company (ABC-TV). From 1979 to 1987, he climbed from production intern to special projects producer-director while at WXYZ-TV, Detroit. There he won six Emmy® Awards, as well as many other honors for documentaries, sports and celebrity specials, as well as children’s programming. Assignments ranged from an nationally-acclaimed exposé on child sexual abuse and a nationally-syndicated documentary on illiteracy - to Hollywood specials and sports features with the likes of:
As special projects producer/director, he generated syndicated coverage of the 60th Annual Michigan Thanksgiving Day Parade, including a Santa Claus pre-parade adventure.
Stepien left broadcasting in 1987 to co-found Adventure, Inc., a successful Detroit-based film/video production company. By 1995, it was ranked among Michigan’s fastest-growing private firms. He co-created award-winning communications for Fortune 500 companies like General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Aon and Kmart for nearly nine years.
From 1996 to 2017, Stepien crafted marketing and advertising for global clients, as writer-creative director and owner of Stepien Creative Services, Inc. He served a spectrum of global customers and industries, including:
In 2012, Stepien experienced a spiritual awakening. He also refocused his business on the non-profit sector and “good causes.”
At that time, he began writing his first book, a biblical novel about twelve-year-old Jesus, Three Days: The Search for the Boy Messiah (Beacon Publishing, 2015). It is based on the only Gospel story about Jesus as a youth, (Luke 2:41-52). Dynamic Catholic Institute chose to make Three Days the first novel ever released in its very popular book program. Stepien is now a Dynamic Catholic author and speaker.
Jesuit retreats, Bible studies, spiritual exercises, and praying the rosary inspired the author to write this novel about preteen Jesus. There are more than 300 Scripture verses woven into the novel’s dialogue. Stepien relied on excellent historical references and research of first-century Israel. In addition, his faith and his passion for visual storytelling helped shape a realistic account of the boy Messiah and His family’s Passover pilgrimage. The author’s volunteer experiences serving the needy and children of alcoholics were also very influential in creating believable dialogue and events.
Since 2000, Stepien and his wife, Ellen, have been Vincentians - members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP). Chris Stepien, a former SVdP conference president, also served as a lay spiritual advisor to a group of Vincentians in Dearborn, Michigan for more than 15 years. Their core mission: to respond to the needs of poor families in the surrounding community, visit them in their homes, and provide financial assistance, guidance, friendship and hope.
In 2013 and 2014, Stepien collaborated with lifelong friend, Fr. Joseph “Bernie” Marquis to write Saint to Santa: How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus (Pauline Books & Media, 2014). The colorful and entertaining video uses puppets, music, a cast of children and “St. Nick” himself to introduce young viewers to the real Santa. Portraying both the venerable saint and the jolly old elf, Fr. Marquis tenderly explains his dual identity in celebrating the true spirit and meaning of Christmas - the birthday of Jesus. CatholicTV Network, Boston, Massachusetts, teamed up with Pauline Media (Daughters of St. Paul) to produce and air the project which is also available as streaming video and on DVD.
At that time, Stepien experienced a rekindling of the spiritual vibe that sparked Three Days. He then penned the lyrics to The Boy Messiah / Conquer Hell. What began as a poem, quickly evolved into a hip-hop tune about 12-year-old Jesus. Stepien thought the genre would be relevant to young people. He searched for a recording artist for more than a year before the Catholic rapper, “Communion” (aka Alvaro Vega) agreed to write music and record the song. The Florida seminarian released the tune on his Unprofitable Servant Productions label in 2016. That same year, Stepien and Vega teamed up to present a Catholic youth retreat in Detroit on The Path to True Eternal Happiness.
Stepien’s latest work is derived from his personal “whiff of death.” A few days before Thanksgiving 2014, the author found himself in an oncologist’s office. But he wasn’t the patient. His wife, Ellen, was just beginning her battle with aggressive breast cancer. That day, while listening to the oncologist’s treatment strategy, Chris Stepien began writing Dying to Be Happy: Discovering the Truth About Life (Beacon Publishing, 2016).
The nonfiction spiritual work capitalizes on a brush with life-threatening disease to spark a frank discussion on mortality. It asks: “If you knew you were going to die today, what would you do?” Dying to Be Happy explores the prospects of embracing death on a daily basis versus denying it. Stepien encourages readers to follow the advice of Jesus Christ - always be ready for the end of life.
In addition to glimpses of his wife’s cancer ordeal, woven in and out of the ten chapters, Stepien highlights a spectrum of short, true stories where people rise above the fear of death, including the harrowing account of a child who survived the Holocaust - Stepien’s mother.
His books have sparked considerable interest among readers and the media. Stepien is a frequent guest on both secular and Catholic radio shows and has been interviewed by journalists and hosts for a variety of publications and TV programs.
In 2017, Stepien and his wife, Ellen, moved to Chicago, Illinois, to be closer to their two adult sons, Alex and Mike, and their growing family. He continues to develop books and talks about a variety of spiritual topics. Dozens of churches, schools, universities, youth groups and organizations have invited the author to inspire believers.
For more information, please contact Chris Stepien.