It may seem surprising to find, in this section on the spirituality of Father
JOËSSEL, a few words on the role played by his family. But it was, with God's will, the family that made him the priest he became. Family was very important to Daniel JOËSSEL, from his childhood, happy, full of wonder, thanks to his father's genius, until the last day of his life, at the time of his death, when he dictated a little note for his elder sister, but intended more widely for his family. His human nature will have received much from her! It was also her who passed on the Faith to him.
Marthe JOËSSEL and her four children
He has been perfectly priestly, while keeping a very strong link with his family.
Here is what François VEUILLOT wrote :
For his expansive tenderness and vibrant sensitivity will always retain a childlike affection for his own people ; and it would be to mutilate the portrait of the seminarian, as it would later be to mutilate the physiognomy of the priest in charge of a new, large and noisy family, to conceal this feature of his nature which shows him to be so human and so supernatural at the same time. Supernatural, indeed; for his family, along with a simple and cordial love, he will always have apostolic concerns. And Mister PRESSOIR gives us this moving detail: « During his father's illness, even above the improvement of his condition and the prolongation of his life, it was the sanctity of his death that was the first object of his solicitude and prayers. » François VEUILLOT, Un vicaire de banlieue, l’Abbé Daniel JOËSSEL, p. 41-42
or again :
For it is with joy that, for his family in spirit, Father JOËSSEL would have given all his possessions, as he would have sacrificed his very life.
But, at the same time, Dani's heart, still dilated by the priesthood, was wide enough to keep all his tenderness for his family in the flesh.
Indeed, one would give only a singularly incomplete idea of his character as a man if one were to neglect the faithful, attentive and delicate affection that he never ceased to have for his family. Yes, as all those close to him repeatedly testify,« he had retained a deep family spirit,... he was a charming brother,... a delightful uncle... » And this family concern was sensitive to anyone who approached him outside his family. « In his family, which was closely united and which he cherished filially, recognises Fr LEBRETON, illnesses and bereavements struck him at the heart.» François VEUILLOT, Un vicaire de banlieue, l’Abbé Daniel JOËSSEL, p. 78-79
If Daniel JOËSSEL was able to be a godfather before becoming a priest, once a priest, he will only accept it rarely, and only if there are good pastoral reasons for it.
Of course, he did not fail to celebrate the baptisms of his nephews and nieces in his family.
Here, in a letter, is a brief account of the baptism of his nephew Bruno TOUVET, in 1934.
« Yesterday at 2:1⁄4 am, Bruno's baptism. Attending were the Godfather, Alain Touvet, the Godmother Madeleine Piffard, Aunt Chen, Aunt Germaine, Odile Chastelain, Pierrick, the nanny, Mademoiselle, and me. Everything went very well. Dani, very moved, performed all the rites very well, especially the ceremony, the sprinkling, which was rather abundant. After the consecration to the Blessed Virgin, he made a very smart gesture. He took his nephew from the arms of the nanny and raised him to the Blessed Virgin ! » Lettre de Marie Josèphe GALL à Yvie JOËSSEL.
Christening of Philippe JOËSSEL, at La Boissière-du-Doré on 24 April 1931. Daniel JOËSSEL, who was not yet a priest, was the godfather.
Left photo: from left to right: Yvie JOËSSEL, the mother of the christened, Isabelle FRANÇOIS SAINT MAUR, the godmother, Philippe JOËSSEL, Charles FRANÇOIS SAINT MAUR, the grandfather, Renée FRANÇOIS SAINT MAUR, the grandmother, Daniel JOËSSEL, the godfather.
Photo on the right: Philippe JOËSSEL and his godfather.
The communion he experienced in his family served as a model for his pastoral work, especially with young people. He will always consider his parishioners, « his children », as a new family. He wishes that all the young people of the different movements be « one family ».
And the summer camps, which were in a way a condensed version of his pastoral work, were always to be run according to the model of a family.
François VEUILLOT reports :
His ideal in the summer camp was « family life ». (p.174)
A « beautiful one hundred percent Christian family life ». (p.175)
During the war, on the front, his officers and men, all those entrusted to him, will also be considered as a new family.
No doubt all those who were part of "his" families can feel the subject of his prayers. He wrote to his sister before he died :
« In heaven, I will remain the bond of my family through my priesthood. »