Article by Stuff Reporter – EMILY SPINK (January 11 2017)

Matthew Mark initially missed the news that the City Missioner was stepping down after more than 12 years.   When he later learnt that the top job was up for grabs, Mark was excited at the opportunity to be part of one of Christchurch’s “critical” organisations.   The proud Cantabrian was this week announced as the new City Missioner.

“It’s a really critical role … we have a growing need out there in amongst the community with homelessness, with the working poor, with those that are suffering from some sort of substance addiction and how do we attend to those things really well.

“The challenge is going to be around how do we get the whole community of Christchurch engaged so that everyone knows they can be a game-changer,” Mark said.

Mark, who is a father to four adult children, would take over from outgoing missioner Michael Gorman.

“There’s some big shoes to fill, from Michael’s perspective. He has made a really positive impact … I’m very mindful there is a good road that has been carved and I’ve got to make sure that I continue to build on that and make it every bit as strong.”

Just under three years ago, Mark moved into the charitable space after a number of years in the corporate world, and became the CEO of Ronald McDonald House South Island.

“It’s been an amazing journey. The last, almost, three years with Ronald McDonald House South Island has been a real privilege and a pleasure.”

Mark had thrived being on the ground and engaging with the families who came through the doors of Ronald McDonald in Christchurch.

He vowed to continue that same ethos at the City Mission, which served some of Christchurch’s most vulnerable people – be they struggling to put food on the table, or find a home.

“I certainly plan on being in there boots and all.”

Mark said many Cantabrians were unaware of the depth and breadth of the work the City Mission carried out and his initial goal was to make a “positive difference”, and raise the profile of the organisation’s portfolio of work.

“From my side when I look at that, it’s an opportunity for me to get alongside and be part of a team that are passionate about doing what they do and making a difference in society.”

He would oversee the City Mission’s 85 staff and 170 regular volunteers.

Mark said he did not use the word “privileged” lightly, but felt he was truly privileged to be entrusted as the Missioner.

Mark would officially start his new role on March 24. Mission governance board chair Father Peter Williams would oversee the role in the interim.