Preparation for the Priesthood
Born into a Christian family, Daniel received his first training from them, undoubtedly a solid foundation for the future, which did not prevent him from seeking his own path.
He then owed the institutions where he studied a complement and a confirmation of what he had already received:
-- Saint Jean de Béthune, in Versailles, where he spends only one year, essential, of his Solemn Communion, prepared with Father RÉGENT.
-- Then the Notre Dame School in the rue de Madrid in Paris, run by the Jesuits, where he will remain until the end of his secondary school and where, with others such as Pierre POISSON, who is later to become a Jesuit, he proves to be a zealous evangeliser. His zeal worries his parents who wonder if he is doing too much!
« — No, replies the master, when asked. On the contrary, we love him and follow him. »
Too tired to enter the seminary immediately, he begins a degree in mathematics.
In October 1927, at the age of 19, he enters the French Seminary in Rome, where he will stay for only one year. There he receives a solid beginning to his education. He will come out of it with a great love of the Church, of the liturgy and of doctrine.
On 11 November 1928, he returs to the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Pierre de Solesmes where he took the clothing on 14 December under the name of Brother Marie-Daniel. But he does not stay there either and at the end of February 1929, he leaves the abbey.
He then takes advantage of this to do his military service in Poitiers and then Orléans, as an officer cadet, but with the unchanged objective of serving God.
At the end of his service, he enters the Carmelite Seminary, the seminary of the Catholic Institute of Paris, where he will prepare a licence in theology. This time, he’ll persevere and do his entire training there, continuing his studies, after his ordination to the priesthood, for another year.
The steps towards the Priesthood :
1931: April 4, a Holy Saturday: tonsure in the Carmelite chapel.
1933: 15 April, a Holy Saturday: sub-diaconate.
1933: 2 July, deaconate.
1934: 31 March, on a Holy Saturday, ordination to the priesthood.
The Carmelite Seminary
Before Daniel's arrival :
In a place steeped in history, linked to the Catholic Institute of Paris, the Carmelite Seminary was founded in 1919 by Mr Jean VERDIER (1864-1940), a Sulpician, who was to become Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris (1929-1940). The man whom Cardinal GERLIER called the "first priest of France" had already been at the Catholic Institute since 1912 at the head of a formation house which would evolve at the end of the war to become the Carmelite University Seminary where seminarians could complete their training and those who were already priests could complete theirs. Combining priestly training with university training, it will have in the eyes of many the reputation of being the best seminary in France.
Father Jean VERDIER is the founder and first superior. He is the one who imparts a style, distills a soul. Father Jean PRESSOIR is the director of the Seminary, helped by the directors at the seminary who spiritually support the seminarians.
After teaching there for 24 years, Father Alfred Baudrillart became rector of the Catholic Institute of Paris in 1907. Consecrated bishop in 1921, he became Cardinal in 1935. He held this position until his death in 1942.
In 1925, the Catholic Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The year 1926 was marked by an important event: the beatification of the Carmelite martyrs on 17 October in Rome. Festivities were then held in Paris at Saint Sulpice.
In Daniel's time :
When Daniel JOËSSEL arrived at the Carmelite Seminary in 1930, its founder and first superior had left the place a year ago to his right-hand man and main collaborator for 17 years, Mr Jean PRESSOIR (1877-1960). As a Sulpician who had received much from Jean Verdier, he continued his work. He remained superior of the seminary until 1936 and strengthened the "Carmelite spirit". It was he who came to preach on the 20th November 1949 for the return of the body of Daniel JOËSSEL to Asnières.
The Newsletter of the Catholic Institute allows us to follow the academic career of Daniel JOËSSEL :
The Bachelor of Theology is prepared over two years: in the first year, students prepare for eligibility for the exam, and in the second year, for the exam itself.
Everything is on schedule for Daniel.
Extract from the Newsletter of the Catholic Institute of 25-07-1931.
Extract from the Newsletter of the Catholic Institute, June 1932 examinations.
After passing his baccalaureate, Daniel became an "Auditor" in theology.
In 1933, he passed the exams and obtained a Certificate of Biblical Greek, which was necessary to obtain the licence.
The next step was the licence, which required two years of work and which he obtained in November 1934. He was then a "Lector" in Theology.
Newsletter of the Catholic Institute of Paris, 25 December 1934.
Newsletter of the Catholic Institute of Paris, 25 July 1935.
Newsletter of the Catholic Institute of Paris, 25 December 1935.
Daniel's life at the Seminary
Fraternal emulation :
At the Seminary, "his best friends, the future vicar of Saint-Geneviève had sought them out, by a natural (or supernatural) attraction, in "a group of six or seven students, who did not separate themselves from the others," writes Father LEBRETON, "but stood out by their fervent pietý and by the radiance of their action. "In this alreadỳ high́ setting of the Carmelites," adds Mister PRESSOIR, it was "a team that still stood out from the rest, that was the salt of the Seminary, that gave an example, that exerted an influence".
The animator of this little cenacle - generously opened -, some of whose members entered the Friars Preachers or the Society of Jesus, seems to have beeń Raoul DORANGE, whose hold on his young friend was powerful and perhaps, at a certain moment, providential, and who, like him, was to give his life for France, after having spent it in the service of young people.
But Father JOËSSEL himself, according to the testimony of his superior, "made his mark in this team". It was under the impulse of "a need for the deeper spiritual", that, according to Father Jean BOYER-CHAMMARD, he had come there to seek "a more contemplative interior life", "a more direct impulse towards God", finally "something strong and abrupt, a little exclusive too, which was not without seducing a rather proud, rather aristocratic aspect of his nature". François VEUILLOT, L'abbé Daniel JOËSSEL.
The prayer life :
"As for his piety, acknowledged by all, it seems, from the radiance of which it was always the focus, that it could not grow. Pupils and teachers also noticed, in his heart-to-heart with Jesus, the impressive immobilities of this coach and the indefinite silences of this sparkling talker. At the foot of the Blessed Sacrament," remarked Mr PRESSOIR, "his fervour was a kind of tension, which could be seen in his attitude and his looks. Similarly, at the feet of the Blessed Virgin. He could not tear himself away in the evening from this altar of Mary, where the seminarians come to meditate before retiring to their cells. Sometimes he had to be warned to remind him of the time. And here is the concordant testimony of a fellow student: ''He would remain for long moments beside the Master,'' testifies Father LÉGER, ''entirely devoted to an intimate and beneficent colloquy; sometimes he would sit down and, with his head bowed, he would remain in an attitude of the greatest recollection; sometimes, standing up, he would embrace the tabernacle for long moments with his gentle and smiling gaze. Then his face took on a truly angelic expression that I will never forget...'' " François VEUILLOT, L’abbé Daniel JOËSSEL.
He obtains his licence in theology in 1934, in the November session, and continues his studies for another year.
His biographer does not give any details about his university studies, for which Daniel had facilities, but for which he did not sacrifice his prayer life. The archives of the Carmelite Seminary seem to have disappeared.
All that remains is this testimony:
"In all circumstances, and even at the time of examinations", Father JOËSSEL, affirms John LÉGER, one of his fellow students, "puts work after the exercises of piety. " François VEUILLOT, L'abbé Daniel JOËSSEL.
"What should we do with his books?" asked Father Pierre VEUILLOT later on. They are almost exclusively books on theology or spirituality." (Letter to Andrée TOUVET, 26 March 1941)
Catholic Institute of Paris, memorial plaque.