“A life so hidden and yet so fruitful seemed to Fr Colin to be the model of what the life of the whole society (of Mary) should be”.
These words sum up the life of our dear Sr Martha Drummond whom we honour and lay to rest today. She, Alice Joyce, was born in Manly in 1919 and had 3 older brothers – Edmund, Francis and Leonard. In 1921 her mother Martha, having lost her husband, married Augustus (Gus) Drummond who became a good father to the family. In 1922 her twin sisters Mavis and Louisa were born in Lawson. In 1924 after the tragic death of nine-year old Leonard in a riding accident the family moved to Penrith where many happy years were spent. They lived next to the convent of the Sisters of St Joseph where Joyce (as she was always called) and her sisters were educated.
After leaving school Joyce moved into clerical employment until 1943 when, during World War II, she enlisted in the Australian Women’s Army Service, being posted firstly to Bathurst and then to Melbourne. She worked as a clerical assistant and in the Quartermaster’s store was promoted to Corporal and drove very large Army trucks in Victoria. In the Army she met her lifelong friend Kath Bobridge who remembers Joyce’s prowess as a keen ballroom dancer.
When she was discharged from the Army she entered the Marist Sister’s Congregation in December 1946 and at her reception was given the name Sr Martha to the great joy of her mother who was also Martha. Her first posting was to Mittagong where the Sisters were pioneering a boarding school for developmentally disadvantaged children.
Then followed many years of faithful service in Australia and eleven years in New Zealand. Our Congregational Leader, Sr Jane Frances, knew Sr Martha when she was a pupil of Mt Albert in Auckland. In her email she speaks of Martha as the kindest, gentlest and most thoughtful Marist Sister she had met and this continued down the years. She stressed her ability to listen, understand and empathise with everyone at all times and Martha’s tremendous respect for the value of the person and her spirit of openness and hospitality. The sisters in New Zealand have many lovely memories of her.
When I lived with Martha in Burwood, Melbourne, I was inspired by her loving motherly care for two very aged sisters, Cuthbert and Odilon, and also her compassion and joyful good humoured presence in the community. She was a great driver, a wonderful cook and house keeper, always ready to serve and help her loved Marist Sisters, and her own family. She exercised her gift of hospitality to so many people. She was very good to the priests of the parish. I remember Martha quietly preparing a daily egg-flip for a young and very fragile assistant priest. However, I believe he gained much more than health care from the 11am egg-flip given with such understanding and friendship by Martha. When she came to Marian House in 1991 she worked tirelessly and unobtrusively for all till gradually she slowed down but remained always cheerful and interested in everything. During those years she discovered she had an aptitude for Art and produced some lovely paintings and drawings.
When I was at Martha’s bedside in Royal North Shore Hospital I felt what a patient, enduring and strong heart she had! The words of our charism “Hidden and Unknown” express the gentle Marian presence of Martha. She never drew attention to herself, simply fitting in wherever she could be of service, never seeking praise or acknowledgement. The qualities of Mary also embodied in Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, our Foundress, seem to find resonance in Martha’s life: “humility, poverty, love of work, in an integration of prayer and action in constant union with God”.
Dear Sister Martha we will miss you but will never forget your true example of an authentic Marist life. May you rest in peace in the arms of the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary and Joseph – and all the saints. O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His merciful love endures forever.