Not ones to beat their own drum

By Debbie Cramsie, 18 January 2021
Siblings Dan, Rosie and Steve Drum. Image: The Catholic Weekly


Parents often have little idea how important their prayers for their children will turn out to be. Nor do the children …

To their friends they are known as the “Holy Trinity” but to their parents, they are simply Daniel, Steve and Rosie.

And while Nola and John Drum say they don’t treat the trio any differently to their other six children, they do admit they feel incredibly blessed to have three children who have consecrated their lives to God.

In fact, Nola makes no secret of the fact that she prayed regularly for more priests, brothers and sisters in the world … she just had no idea her prayers would be answered quite so close to home.

Her son Dan, a Verbum Dei Missionary, was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Terry Brady on November 28 at St Charles Borromeo Church at Ryde. Her other son, Steve, also with the same community, was ordained to the diaconate in July 2020.

Both brothers hope to be ordained to the priesthood together sometime in 2021.

Meanwhile, daughter Rosie has been a Sister with the Missionaries of God’s Love for over 10 years, choosing the community for its charismatic and Eucharistic spirituality. And the vocations don’t stop there. Bernard, one of their other brothers, spent 18 months in the seminary before discerning his vocation to marriage. Their cousin Teresa is a Carmelite sister while their aunt, Sister Mary Drum, is the provincial of the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC).

Nola said her family, who grew up in Temora in country NSW, has always been very open to vocations and thanks her and her husband’s parents for their encouragement in always maintaining a faith-filled life.

A catechist for over 30 years, she said all of her nine children have been raised with Jesus at the centre of their lives. Today she thanks the Holy Spirit for her beautiful family.

“We were both very lucky to have such prayerful and strong Catholic parents, who were very religious and always encouraged us to be involved with the Church,” she said.

“Sadly they have now passed and missed out on seeing the boys enter their order but they did have the opportunity to see Rosie enter and were very excited and proud.

“I used to say ‘Please Lord feel free to take any of them’ … little did I know he would take three of them which was such a lovely surprise.

“I guess looking back Rosie was always a little that way inclined but not so much the boys. That was a real shock.

“Although having a cousin and an aunty as religious made such a difference, they just grew up with it and it didn’t phase them or seem unusual.

“Both boys are so very different but seeing them in the same order together really is very special.

“They have both taken their time to get where they are but really do seem so very happy and have now found where they belong.

“They are such a good support for each other and both John and I are just thrilled that not only Dan and Steve but Rosie has answered the call to consecrated life and can share in this together.”

A relatively new institution in Australia, Verbum Dei is an international Catholic Community founded by Fr Jaime Bonet in Mallorca, Spain in 1963. It received Pontifical approval in 2000 as an Institution of Consecrated Life in the Catholic Church.

Present in 37 countries around the world, the community is dedicated to prayer and preaching of the Word.

In Australia, the Drum brothers make up almost half of Verbum Dei’s clerical membership, with only three priests in the country along with the two brothers. For Dan, who has recently returned from Spain after being in pandemic lockdown for three months, a lifetime of searching has finally found what truly makes him happy.

Growing up on a farm in the Riverina, he said quite often his siblings made up the local Church youth group and he often looked elsewhere for “opportunities for entertainment”.

It wasn’t until he gained a technology degree and spent years in the workforce that he realised the Church was where his future lay.

As a scientist, he saw his job curing disease and making the world a better place, yet on the eve of his ordination, he sees that same dedication to getting people to a better place.

“I had a good job, great friends and family, played sports and had a pretty active social life but still felt something was missing,” he said.

“When I was growing up I always went to Mass on a Sunday but I guess looking back I never felt a real connection with Jesus.

“Over the years, I thought about it and was invited by my cousin to go to various things within her religious community but it wasn’t until Steve and I were living together in Sydney that I realised what I was looking for.

“He had already had a moment of conversion and was attending weekly meetings of the School of the Word as part of Verbum Dei.

“I saw him investing in his faith and he looked so happy and full of joy that I started to wonder what it was all about.

“Steve didn’t have a car at the time so I offered to drive him to his meetings as a way of checking out what he was so attracted to and it was there I really had that moment that changed my life.

“At one of the meetings, I had a real encounter with Jesus through 1 Corinthians 13 1-3. The passage goes ‘without love I have nothing’ which really sums up my life and faith today – if I don’t have love I feel like my life is empty.

“It just opened me up to the idea there’s so much more if I allow God in and I think God came in at that moment and changed my understanding of what my life was about.

“During World Youth Day in 2008, I saw the Verbum Dei community from around the world living their vocation and I started to think I could live like that.

“When we started to discern we knew we couldn’t do it in Australia which was both a challenge and an attraction, we were leaving our jobs, our country and our family so we really had to be sure it was our vocation.

“In 2009, Steve went to the Philippines for a month and stayed for three, by the time he got back I was convinced it was what I wanted and told him I was coming too and we left Australia to start our new life in Spain.

“In a matter of weeks we had gotten rid of everything, some stuff we sold other stuff we gave to Vinnies, we literally boarded the flight with a bag of clothes and that was it.

“That’s the whole idea of what a missionary is, going to a different culture and leaving everything behind.

‘That was 10 years ago and in that time there have been a lot of challenges but I can honestly say I am finally where I am meant to be.

“With a vocation if it’s something you are thinking about take it seriously and give yourself completely to the process.

“Looking back I was scared because I focused on what I was giving up but I didn’t really think about what I was gaining which is crazy once I realised how amazing this life was I never looked back.”

Sister Rosie said she was overjoyed with her brother’s vocation and that it was quite simply “the work of the Holy Spirit”.

She said while each of them had encountered the love of God in an individual way they all share the love of consecrated life.

“I am so excited, proud and brimming with happiness … words just can’t describe how happy I am that both my brothers have taken this path with me,” she said.

“I am so privileged to live a religious life and having them walk that life with me is very, very special.

“Our role is to live a life and breathe God’s love to the world. Ah the happiness of doing what I’m supposed to with my life.”

And as for Nola, she admits to now praying for vocations from the next generation.

Not one to be greedy, she said she is happy with what she has but if it’s God’s will she would think it was marvellous for one of her grandchildren to enter religious life.

“Of course there is no pressure, but if one of the grandkids decided to take up a vocation … well wouldn’t that be something,” she beamed.

“It is a calling and a sacrifice but what a life it would be.”

For more information about Vocations in the Diocese of Parramatta, please visit:

By Debbie Cramsie. Reproduced with permission from The Catholic Weekly, the news publication of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.


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