When it comes to evangelizing—and being evangelized—Deacon Steve Mitchell knows his stuff.
The 57-year-old Oxford, Mich.-based national director of Alpha for Catholics—an offshoot of the wildly popular teaching course on Christianity—was born into the Catholic Church, but drifted away.
“I had an intense conversion experience in my 20’s with the Baptist community when I was in the military,” Mitchell said in a telephone interview. A self-proclaimed product of the ‘60s and ‘70s, something about the Baptist teachings resonated with him. But after about 10 years, the faith of his childhood came calling again.
“I longed for the Eucharist, so I drifted back,” he said.
But “drift” might be a bit of an understatement, considering the trajectory his return to Catholicism set him upon. He was ordained a deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit, he reared six children steeped in the faith, and then, of course, came the job at Alpha nearly three years ago.
“I hadn’t heard of it before,” he admitted, adding it was his wife who nudged him along, saying the opportunity had his name written all over it.
Mitchell’s staffing business, heavily reliant on the automotive industry in Detroit, closed in 2008 when the bottom fell out of the economy. He was restless, impatient, but still passionate about evangelizing. He interviewed for the job, got it, and hasn’t looked back.