Mother Superior

The terrible compassion of Mary Jo Copeland.

Copeland says she hasn't seen the film, but her son Mark, daughter Catherine LaMere, and Bruce Harstad attended the premiere. Some in the audience snickered at news clips featuring Copeland outside of Mary's Place, lifting her hands to the heavens and thanking God for a miracle. They moaned when she began to wax on about her hardships. They applauded when Thisius accused Copeland and other private charities of being part of the problem. Hennessey says that before they left "in a huff," he asked Mark Copeland, LaMere, and Harstad to participate in a post-film discussion, but they refused.

Even now, when The Homeless Home Movie comes up at Sharing and Caring Hands, staff members and volunteers begin to circle, shaking their heads in disbelief, barely disguising their disgust with red faces and pursed lips. "Most of the people interviewed in that film were from Up and Out of Poverty," Harstad complains. "And they're simply pursuing a Marxist agenda."

"For someone to criticize my mother is just crazy," Mark Copeland adds. "There's no talking to them. The people in that film were just goofy. A lot of people make controversy just to make it.

Christopher Peters

"If someone were to ask me if my mom is holding this city together I'd say yes," he continues. "The world is going to start coming here. When my mom faces God, she'll be able to say what she's done. And when you write this article, I know God will be with you. I know he'll guide you to the truth."

Later, sitting in her office with Mark, Copeland tells me she doesn't have time to be political, doesn't have time to worry about those few she can't help. "I've always been downtown for love. I don't care what the politicians think. They should get away from their desks and get to their knees," Copeland says. "I'm telling the world what needs to be done by doing it."

Then, to conclude our week together, Mark and Mary Jo hold my hands and bow their heads and pray. Not for this reporter's salvation; not for Mary, Mother of God; not even for the lost souls scratching at Sharing and Caring Hands. Mary Jo prays for the thing that matters most. She prays for a good story.

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