Name: The Reverend Mark Elston Zorab
Job: 1.Hon. Assistant Curate, St.Arvans group of Parishes near Chepstow, Diocese of Monmouth.
2. Chartered Surveyor and Principal, Elstons Country Land & Estate Agents, Usk, Monmouthshire.
Age: 59 Married with four children.
What was your route into the job?: 1.Ordained 1994 by Archbishop Rowan Williams to serve as non stipendiary Curate in the St. Arvans group of Parishes with five rural churches including St. Deiniol’s, Itton in which parish are kenneled the Curre&Llangibby foxhounds and where the famous hound breeder Sir Edward Curre, Bt, lived and bred his famous white hounds with Welsh cross bloodlines many of which can be found in hunt kennels throughout the UK and USA if you look far enough back at the pedigrees in the Foxhound Kennel Studbooks.
2. My father Phillip was as an Artillery officer in WWII and afterwards became a London hospital Consultant and was one of 5 brothers, all third family generation practicing medicine, I am the black sheep of the family! He encouraged me to attend the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester and I trained in the rural practice division of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors becoming FRICS and eventually Principal of my own rural Estate Agency and lettings practice in Usk Monmouthshire, the county of my mother’s family from Piercefield Park (now Chepstow racecourse) and where my grandfather farmed a heard of Guernsey dairy cows near-by.
What's the best part of the job?: Living and working and ministering to all different kinds of people in their different stages of life and needs here in Monmouthshire. In the estate agency practice I am very fortunate as it allows me to see all the most interesting rural properties in SE Wales.
It brings me into contact with people at all the various stages of their life. People move home for all sorts of different reasons for example, getting married, moving up or down the ladder, gaining or losing jobs, ill health and of course at their death too. This is a vocation to help people move of itself. However, it also provides the salary to live on and so that the church doesn’t have to pay me. The bible says, “the labourer is worthy of his hire” Luke ch 10 and of course even St. Paul earned his own living as a tent maker in the early church. This means bridging the gap for people between the world and the church quietly continuing to help make Christianity and the name of Jesus known and loved in the rural areas. I follow the catholic Anglican tradition, where we value the historical context of the rhythm of daily prayer and sacrament, worshipping in the same Celtic and medieval buildings of our ancestors in the faith, to traditional liturgies which speak louder and I believe more truthfully, than any of the new liberal innovations the church is currently engaging with, can ever do. In my own parish of St. Arvans we have a 10th century Celtic wheel cross and are currently trying to raise £200,000 to renovate the roof.
And the most challenging aspect?: Working as part of a team with my friend and colleague Fr. Michael Gollop SSC the parish priest of our group, to jointly bring to people the daily Holy Sacraments and on Sundays and Baptism, Marriage and funeral rites to all the five churches in very rural areas. Two of the churches have no road or electricity to them and we walk across the fields in all weathers, so winter is always a challenge but often very beautiful too. Making time is a challenge for the three vocations I follow with a busy pastoral, family and business life, and a very active working Cocker Spaniel called Dot who accompanies me into church and sits obediently at the back during Mass on Saturday mornings!
What has been your proudest moment?: In the Church pride is something to avoid and which can be sinful! So perhaps I could tell you about my activities instead! Fishing the famous Monmouthshire rivers for trout and salmon; the Usk is next to my office and the Wye runs through the parish and shooting at Usk Castle down the road makes me very fortunate. As a former MFH I continue to support the hunt although I don’t ride any more, time is the problem. Both Chepstow racecourse and the point-to-point course at Howick (where I used to race ride in younger days) are situated within the parishes, so I go there too, aren’t I lucky!
What advice would you give someone going into the role?:The future of the rural parishes may largely rest with the properly trained voluntary ordained ministry, it could be you! Make time for your family, for daily prayer and make sure to turn the mobile off sometimes because you are never off duty!