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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA students aid local Catholic monestary

Ordinarily, Catholic sisters learn domestic skills, such as cooking, gardening, and rosary making, but local members of the 18th-century founded Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration are getting a crash course in financial strategy and business management courtesy of students from the Eller College of Management.

Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have teamed up with Eller students by launching “Prayerfully Popped,” a gourmet popcorn retailer. This “Corn from the Cloister” hit the market on Sept. 1, 2011 and is currently only offered online.

John Leavitt, a fifth-generation Catholic Tusconan and graduate student studying management information systems, helps manage Prayerfully Popped. Leavitt said he loves how Tucson is a big city that still has a small, cozy feeling. One of the things that helps give Tucson that feeling is presence of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, he said.

“While in an accounting class, my group received word that the sisters needed someone to help them start a business to help them financially,” Leavitt added. “I, some other UA students, and my teacher formed that group and started meeting with the sisters to discuss possible business ventures.”

They drafted a plan to start a popcorn company to provide the means to support the sisters’ contemplative lifestyle.

“We all really wanted to make sure that the sisters would be able to continue to sustain their lifestyle in Tucson,” Leavitt said. “It was especially important to me that they continue to remain financially secure.”

Founding a business for a group of women who have taken vows of poverty, however, proved to be challenging.

“The sisters strictly follow the Rule of Saint Benedict,” Leavitt said. “The Rule even governed some of the ways we had to set up and run the business.”

Throughout their years of canonical existence, the sisters’ main sources of financial help have been charitable donations along with supplies and gifts for nearby Catholic parishes that they have made themselves.

“It was interesting to help build a business around a Rule that has been around for over 1,500 years,” Leavitt said.

Leavitt credited skills he learned at Eller with his ability to help this group of women who have dedicated their lives to helping others.

“Eller helped me with the basic business concepts needed to understand a new business,” he said. “I’m sure it was really helpful that a handful of students and an accounting instructor, Jennifer Marshal, rose to help the sisters.”

The opening of a store in Tucson that will market the popcorn is in the works.

“My goal is that Prayerfully Popped continues to build revenue for the sisters and those charities that they donate towards,” Leavitt said. “I hope it continues to help sustain their communal life of prayer through the hard work of university students and the sisters.”

In the future, students from Eller will work at the local Prayerfully Popped store.

“Eller continues to produce world-class business students with strong ethical compasses,” Leavitt said. He said he is certain that “the sisters will be as happy with the current and future business students as they were with us.”

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