Skip to main content

Minneapolis 'urban saint' gets private meeting with Pope Francis in Washington, D.C.

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

You might think you wouldn't be able to top meeting President Obama at the White House, but for a Minnesota woman who has spent the last 30 years on a mission of faith, coming face to face with the pope will be a lifetime achievement.

Mary Jo Copeland is the founder of Sharing and Caring Hands, a Minneapolis organization that provides food, clothing and shelter to the needy. Since its establishment as a humble non-profit in 1985, the service has grown to include multiple facilities in the downtown area, helping 20,000 people every month, its website says.

The 73-year-old has come to be known as a "street mother" to many, and an "urban saint" to local officials for her work with the poor, according to her biography.

Copeland has been invited to Washington, D.C., to meet Pope Francis, who will be touring the U.S. next week, the Catholic Spirit reports.

The website says the opportunity comes as a result of letters both she and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens (of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis) wrote to the pontiff, requesting to meet His Holiness.

However, Copeland told WCCO she believes her work with Sharing and Caring Hands is why the pontiff wanted to see her, saying "I think (it's) because of my love for the poor...(the pope's) heart is with loving and helping people who are poor, disenfranchised."

Planning for the pope

She also told the station that she's planned out what she's going to stay to Pope Francis when she meets him – "thank you for teaching the world to love"; she says she will also ask for the pope's prayers so she can continue her work with the needy.

In 2013, President Obama awarded Copeland the Presidential Citizens Medal of Honor, the second-highest honor a civilian can receive.

FOX 9 says she'll have a private meeting with the pontiff next Thursday at the Vatican Embassy in Washington.

And she won't be the only Minnesotan who gets to meet Pope Francis. Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede and "much-loved" north-central Minnesota priest Father Tim Wenzel will also greet His Holiness in Washington next week.

Next Up

snow plow msp airport

MSP snowplow drivers reach contract agreement after threatening strike

Teamsters Local 320 reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Airports Commission Saturday.

Kellen Moore

What you should know about the Vikings' head coach candidates

Seven candidates were revealed on Saturday morning.

20211010_Vikings_Lions_REG05_1119 (2)

What is the next Minnesota Vikings GM inheriting?

A look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Vikings' roster and situation

ambulance

Man dies after being 'punched in the head' during altercation in Duluth

A 46-year-old man is in custody and facing 1st-degree manslaughter charges.

Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders says Zimmer, Spielman hadn't spoken 'in months'

Sanders' comments revealed some of the Vikings' issues last season.

police tape, crime scene

Brooklyn Park man pleads guilty in 2020 fatal drive-by shooting

Devon Manley will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

Screen Shot 2020-06-16 at 7.48.35 AM

Man gets 10 years for fatal pawn shop fire during Minneapolis riots

The incident, which took place during riots in May 2020,  resulted in one man's death.

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Election officials dismiss conservative group's complaint against Rep. Ilhan Omar

The group alleged that she used campaign funds on her future husband's consulting firm.

Screen Shot 2022-01-15 at 9.53.04 AM

Reports: 6 names surface in Vikings' search for new head coach

Six names have surfaced Saturday in the Minnesota Vikings' hunt for a new head coach.

Pexels - face mask covid holding

Minnetonka approves mask mandate in emergency ordinance

The mandate officially goes into effect Monday night.

Related

Gov. Mark Dayton meets with Obama in Washington, D.C.

The Minnesota Governor was among a dozen Democratic governors meeting with the President to discuss jobs and the economy Friday. Dayton declined to predict if Obama will win Minnesota's electorates in November but said "he's the best president we could possibly have."