Cistercian monasteries traditionally support themselves through manual labor. At Mississippi Abbey our main source of income is the candy business we operate, Trappistine Creamy Caramels, and our candy can be purchased on the web.
Nearly all of us work at candy, particularly during the months of September - December, when we make 90% of our annual sales: 70,000 lbs of caramel products, and 2,000 - 6,000 lbs each of our other types of products (mints, meltaways, and truffles).
We are blessed to have an industry that supports us financially. Another blessing is that we all work at candy, so it draws us close in a common effort. During the fall "Candy Season" each sister must put her own work and responsibilities second to the priorities of the candy work, trusting that God will take care of all that is truly needful.
Our goal as a business is not maximum growth, but simply to provide our living expenses. The amount of candy we can produce is limited by the size and health of the community, supplemented by a few employees who share our monastic values. We aim to keep our sales level high enough to support us but not so high as to place great strains on the contemplative quality of our life - not always an easy balance to maintain.
Running our own business is hard work but also great fun. We try to work in a prayerful way and to offer products whose quality reflects who we are and whom we serve. And we can say in all honesty, we have never tasted any caramels as good as our own!