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No Fireworks!! The Fourth of July was not always a Passionist day of celebration!

It has always been customary for Passionist Provincials to send out Circular Letters to the members of the province on a variety of subjects.

John Thomas Stephanini, C.P. was a three-term provincial of St. Paul of the Cross province: 1875-1878, 1881-1884, 1884-1887. Common sense seems to indicate that soon after he was elected provincial in August 1875, Passionists in the United States read the following, the first of three points, in an undated Circular Letter:

“The celebration of the National Holy-Day, the Fourth of July, must be restricted within the bounds of religious propriety and decorum. It must be kept, as a holy-day or general recreation day in accordance with our customs and at the discretion of the Superior of the Retreat. Nothing profane, noisy or distracting may be allowed. All fire-works, firing of guns, pistols and all explosives of whatever sort are strictly forbidden to our Religious and within the boundaries of our property attached to the Retreats. It ill-becomes the Religious of the Passion and Cross of Jesus Christ to celebrate any Festival by such means and by such worldly and obstreperous demonstrations. It was first introduced amongst us or rather forced on us, during the late sectional war, as a proof of northern patriotism, but it is time that it be stopped and that our Religious celebrate the Nation’s feast in a manner becoming our holy profession. The Very Rev. F.F. Rectors will use their authority to that effect.”

In Passionist Historical Archives, Union City, New Jersey. Box 1 Provincial Administration of the 19th Century. Folder: John Thomas Stephanini Circular Letters 1875-1898 & undated.

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