"It was like touching the face of Jesus. I mean that. He is a very warm, spiritual, loving man and he has the heart of Jesus."
That's what Mary Jo Copeland – the founder of Sharing and Caring Hands – said about her meeting with Pope Francis in Washington D.C. Thursday, according to MPR.
The story really begins nearly six months ago when Copeland and Bishop Andrew Cozzens wrote the Pope a letter asking him to visit Minneapolis while he was in America. Weeks later they received a call saying they were invited to meet with the Pope during the pontiff's U.S. visit.
Copeland founded Sharing and Caring Hands – an organization that helps those in poverty meet their needs – in 1985. The organization says she has become known to many as their "street mother," while city officials have called her an extraordinary leader.
For the last 30 years the organization has grown from humble beginnings to one that spent over $350,000 a month helping those in need.
So on Thursday, Copeland, her husband, Richard Copeland and Bishop Cozzens met with Pope Francis at the Vatican Embassy in Washington.
According to KSTP, her invitation to meet with the Pope was a way to honor the work she's done to help the homeless and others afflicted by poverty.
"I said 'Oh Pope Francis, Holy Father, would you pray for me so I can continue my work? There's a lot of work to do, you know?' Then I knew. He shook his head like he would pray for me forever," Copeland told KARE 11.
Her work certainly wasn't lost on the Pope either. According to the National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis had a chance to have lunch on Capitol Hill Thursday, but instead he chose to eat with and visit the homeless at St. Patrick's Church.