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Gourmet Popcorn business really popping

Gourmet Popcorn business really popping - (27-02-2012)

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Photo: Popping Manager Sister Lucia Anne Le is thrilled with customers' love of the Congregation's new gourmet popcorn

One might call it a hot idea that really pops.

Prayerfully Popped: Corn from the Cloister, a line of gourmet popcorn from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, has proven to be an early success since its launch last summer.

While the Sisters incorporate the Benedictine tenets of prayer and work into the new business, as they’ve done with all their works over the generations, Prayerfully Popped is unique in one aspect: it’s a collaborative effort among many people, not just the Sisters.

Joining in the venture are the Eller School of Business at the University of Arizona, along with Sarah Caniglia and Cindy Griffith of 5k9 Consulting Inc.

This exceptional partnership allows the Sisters to balance their monastic life of prayer and work. They engage in activities at the monastery such as labeling containers, creating gift baskets and handling mailings, and assist with producing and packaging, along with managing customer service needs, at the Tucson, Ariz. retail store.

“One very unique aspect of this business is that the Sisters will also get to share their lives with and mentor University of Arizona business students,” Caniglia said. “I hope that the students learn how a business should be run with regards to integrity, honor and conscience and bring these qualities to their future endeavors as they go out into the business world. Corporations can take a lesson from the way this business is run day to day.”

Orders began pouring in over the fall months, and the Sisters sold out of many of the gourmet varieties over the holiday season. They have attended trade shows, school fundraisers and community festivals in and around Tucson to share their new business.

“Everyone loves popcorn,” Caniglia said. “We use the highest quality corn kernels that makes our popcorn superior in taste. All of the corn is grown in the United States, and we are proud of that fact.”

Caniglia calls this a “project of love” among the Benedictine Sisters, the Tucson community, the University of Arizona and customers. Many not-for-profit groups are struggling in today’s tight economy, and organizations are exploring creative ways to find revenue-building projects to provide long-term sustainability.

“However, there needs to be an almost perfect balance between prayer and profit for the Benedictine Sisters and always keeping in mind that when a customer purchases a gourmet popcorn gift, he or she is supporting their Congregation,” Caniglia said.

A portion of the popcorn proceeds are distributed to other charities too, mostly centered around the Sisters' monastery in Arizona, but they hope to expand that circle as business grows.

"This is the best popcorn I have ever had," a customer recently told the Sisters. "Knowing my purchase helps support the Sisters make me even happier."

The Sisters hope this new business venture will accomplish several things: generate new income, forge new, lasting friendships and relationships and provide additional ways to mentor youth in business and in prayer.

“It is a monastic value based on the Rule of St. Benedict that before we start anything, we ask for God’s blessing,” Tucson Prioress Sister Ramona Varela, OSB said. “With God in our hearts, everything we do is part of our daily prayer and, in fact, part of our praise, adoration and thanksgiving.”

Please check out the varieties of flavors available at Prayerfully Popped.

For media inquiries, please contact Sarah Caniglia (Kuh NIG lee uh) at (520) 488-8949.