MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For more than 30 years, Mary Jo Copeland has dedicated her life to helping the poor and needy in the Twin Cities.

Now she will meet Pope Francis when he comes to the United States.

Letters from both Copeland and Bishop Andrew Cozzens to the pope were enough to get the Holy Father to meet with them when he visits the U.S. next week.

Copeland said she is still trying to come to terms with the fact that next week she will be sitting and talking with Pope Francis.

She said she feels blessed to be a part of the pope’s visit and glad for his appreciation of her work with the poor.

For more than 30 years Copeland has dealt with the poor and homeless in the Twin Cities with love and kindness.

“We must love,” she said. “It’s one simple word and forgot how to do it because were so busy doing other things.”

She believes her work with Mary’s Place and with Sharing and Caring Hands is what prompted the pope to want to see her.

“I think because of my love for the poor,” Copeland said. “His heart is with loving and helping people who are poor, disenfranchised. There is poor in spirit, too, but poor people are just in need of kindness and a smile.”

Copeland and Cozzens will have a private meeting with the Holy Father on Thursday at the Vatican Embassy in Washington DC.

Copeland said she has it all planned out how she will greet Pope Francis.

“I’m going to walk in there and I’m going to say, ‘Your holiness, thank you for thinking I was worthy to come here to see you,'” she said. “‘Thank you for your love, thank you for your heart, thank you for teaching the world to love. And would you pray with me so that I can have extra grace and anointing, so I can continue my work and take good care of his people.'”

Copeland hopes this visit with the pope exposes the work done to help the poor and needy here in Minneapolis.

“I can’t go all over the world like Mother Teresa did, but the message can and my example can,” Copeland said.

Copeland said it was her dream to have Pope Francis visit this facility here in Minneapolis so he could help her wash the feet of those who pass through these doors.

She hopes to get the pope’s blessing to do more to help spread her message of love across the globe.

Reg Chapman

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