Fr. Mark was born in a small farming town in central Kansas to parents of mixed Mexican and American backgrounds. Raised in a traditional Latino Roman Catholic family, he was involved from a young age in his local parish on many levels, including president of the Catholic Youth Association. He graduated from Ellsworth High in 1995 and matriculated with a scholarship to the University of Kansas where he focused on Latin American Studies and Hispanic Literature. He has studied and lived abroad in both Madrid, Spain and the isolated jungle region of Golfito, Costa Rica. He graduated in 1999 with his B.A. and married (presbytera) Michelle Upchurch, whom he met during the very first week of their freshman year.
While a student at KU, and after a spiritual journey marked by patristic and church history studies, Fr. Mark embraced Eastern Orthodoxy at his 'home' parish of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Kansas City, MO. Immediately upon graduating in 1999 he enrolled at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston where he received his Master's of Divinity, with High Distinction, in 2004.
While at Holy Cross, Fr. Mark worked for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Department of Religious Education where he was the sole translator of many educational and catechetical resources from English into Spanish for didactic use within the Archdiocese and abroad. Fr. Mark was ordained to the Holy Deaconate in August of 2003 by His Eminence Metropolitan ISAIAH of Denver, and to the Holy Priesthood in August of 2004 by His Eminence Metropolitan IAKOVOS of Chicago of blessed memory.
He served as associate pastor to Holy Taxiarchai/St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church in Niles, IL and pastored SS. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Rockford, IL before being installed as the priest (proistamenos) of Holy Anargyroi in July of 2009.
He was invited to be the first ever Orthodox priest to present at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC during the summer of 2013, sharing the microphone with Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He has also been invited to speak at various local civic venues representing the Eastern Orthodox community of Rochester.
Amongst the many pastoral responsibilities associated with parish life, he also serves as Staff Chaplain at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. There Fr. Mark strives to meet the multifaceted spiritual needs of Orthodox Christians who travel to Rochester, MN from all over the world for medical purposes. He also visits the MN Correctional Facility in Faribault on a monthly basis ministering to the Orthodox inmates. Fr. Mark speaks English, Spanish, and Greek fluently and has a decent command of French.
He has traveled extensively abroad to over fifteen countries, and when he's not traveling he enjoys writing poetry, Byzantine music, political debate, and is an avid strength trainer. He and Presbytera Michelle have three children: Gabriel, Nina, and Sebastian.