Letter from Father André LALANGE to Mr François VEUILLOT
André LALANGE, born on 26 March 1914 in La Haye-Descartes (Indre-et-Loire) and died on 23 May 1983, in Tours. He was ordained a priest on 25 March 1939, in Tours and met Father JOËSSEL during the war, where he served as a non-commissioned officer.
Tours, le 1st December 1940
It is with great joy that I send you the little I know about Father JOËSSEL. I am only too happy to bring the smallest part of my tribute to the memory of the saint that he was.
I got to know Father JOËSSEL at the beginning of the campaign before the Saar, in the first days of september 1939. It was in the vicinity of Verdun, the colonel had sent me to the 3 groups of the regiment to see how the religious service could be organised. Of this first rapid and distant contact I only have a confused memory but I still have a very clear impression of the fraternal and warm kindness of this first welcome.
I was only a non-commissioned officer but from the moment I introduced myself as a priest he received me like a brother receives his youngest.
It was especially in Hazebrouck during the first months of the winter of 39-40 that I was able to appreciate him, when his group was stationed near the Colonel's headquarters. He himself lived a few steps away. I saw him every morning at Notre Dame de Lourdes Church where we said mass. The thing
After the thanksgiving, we often met in the presbytery where the good Mr BOGAERT, parish priest of Notre Dame church who has just died, offered us lunch. What good moments these few minutes of the morning spent together. Sometimes they were cheerful and illuminated by his frank laughter, sometimes they were more serious when it was a question of the apostolate, of difficulties encountered.
We sometimes met in the evening when I escaped from the colonel's office and could go and chat with him for a quarter of an hour. In front of the voluminous mail still in progress on his desk, it was a few moments of conversation full of abandon. On several occasions he cheered me up a little in the monotony of the office and the winter. He told me about his attempts to improve the lot of his men, to distract them, to make them forget the sadness of the distant home. They were also his Valiant Hearts, the link he had established between them and his men by letters and parcels.
Thanks to him, a small study circle was established in the 2nd group; a circle which unfortunately functioned too irregularly because of the weather, work or manoeuvres, but which nevertheless functioned for some time.
A last memory is a sermon in the Church of Borre: if my memory is good it dealt with the redemptive value of suffering. I remember the old commander of the 2nd group, Commander BALFOURIER, crying when he heard it. This theme of the redemptive value of suffering and blood must have been dear to him. He spoke to me about it in private conversations.
Here, dear Sir, is my little bouquet to honour the memory of Father JOËSSEL, a modest bouquet perhaps but one that I treasure.
May these few memories be useful to you in your work and serve to make the holiness of Father JOËSSEL shine forth for the greater good of souls.
Receive, dear Sir, the expression of my religious and sincere consideration.
Abbé André LALANGE