Letter from Major BALFOURIER to
Mr François VEUILLOT
Marcel BALFOURIER, born in Orléans on 19 July 1888, died in Orléans on 14 March 1962. Artillery commander, decorated with the War Cross, Knight of the Legion of Honour.
Orléans, 5 Déc. 1940
I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter concerning Father JOËSSEL.
Unfortunately, Lieutenant JOËSSEL was not a member of my Group and, as a result, I had only infrequent contact with him for my liking, and I fear that my memories will be of little help to you in the task you have kindly undertaken.
My first relations with JOËSSEL date back to the time when he was doing his army service in
Orléans in the 30th Artillery as a Second Lieutenant where I was already a known captain. He was then a young officer full of spirit and drive and a seminarian whose love for good and faith made it possible to foresee the Priest he would become.
I found him again at mobilisation as I had known him at our first meetings. A very active officer, an excellent leader full of concern for his men and also of firmness in his command, a good comrade, cheerful, kind, very dignified without stiffness and always ready to help.
As a priest I particularly remembered two of his sermons given at his military Masses.
In the first, in 1939, he exalted the spirit of sacrifice. He chose as a concrete case the example of one of our comrades who was his dearest friend and who had fallen in the first days of the campaign. His voice vibrated alternately with the ardour of the priest and the emotion of the friend.
In the second, delivered on All Saints' Day 1939, he took up the theme of sacrifice, which was like a premonition of the sacrifice he had to offer.
He showed it to us as the inexhaustible source of Grace. He insisted on the dispositions of the heart with which it is advisable to accept and even desire trials in order to merit Divine Mercy and bend Divine Wrath.
By a word, by a look, to those he knew to be in trial, he had proved to us all individually his infinite compassion, and the resulting emotion for the whole audience was profound.
During the winter of 1939-1940 and with the help of some comrades (in particular Lts Pierre and François SELLIER, 36 rue de Colombier Orléans) he had grouped together former Scouts and these meetings were a great success until the distance of the 3rd Group meant that JOËSSEL was no longer able to attend.
As a friend I often conversed with him. One could feel in his words his deep love for others and especially for young people, whom he understood so well. He often spoke to me about the dear children of his oratories with the tenderness of a big brother. He certainly knew how to touch their hearts, as shown by the surprise they gave him when they all joyfully went to wait for him at the station when he first arrived on leave.
The news of his death was a great sorrow for me but not a surprise. He was one of those souls
so beautiful that they only think of offering themselves as a holocaust, and the offering is so pure that God accepts it with joy, so much does it remind Him of the Divine Sacrificed one.
I apologise for this rather long but basically empty letter. I regret that I cannot tell you more about the dear departed who in his modesty spoke very little about himself.
Please accept, Sir, my respectful and devoted sentiments.
Commandant Marcel BALFOURIER