Published by Religion News Service, September 24, 2015

LOS ANGELES (RNS) When Regina Bunye catches sight of Pope Francis in Philadelphia on Saturday (Sept. 26), it won’t be her first glimpse of the pontiff. Last year, she took part in a pilgrimage to Rome, where she got within 20 feet of Francis, who waved to her group.

“It’s kind of like seeing a rock star up close,” said Bunye, 36. “He is just a connection away from St. Peter and then Jesus … and he’s an incredible man.”

Like Bunye, the young adults descending on Philadelphia this week may be Francis’ biggest fans.

Yet, as a repeat pilgrim, weekly Mass-goer and parish volunteer, Bunye represents a fading demographic: young adult Catholics intensely involved in their church.

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Photo courtesy of Blessed Sacrament Parish’s Ignatian Young Adults group

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