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What’s it like to celebrate Mass with the pope?

Father James C. Hinkle, parochial vicar of St. Theresa Church in Ashburn, saw Pope Francis a number of times while studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He saw him from a distance during his weekly audiences, and even met the pontiff up close on one occasion. But tomorrow - the pope's second day in the United States - will be like nothing he's ever experienced.

Father Hinkle is one of 57 Arlington diocesan priests concelebrating alongside Pope Francis during the canonization Mass of Blessed Junípero Serra. The Mass will be outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

"It's a truly incredible opportunity to concelebrate the sacrifice of the Mass with a pope," said Father Hinkle this afternoon. "I'm excited to hear what his message will be to the people here."

Father Hinkle studied Spanish in high school and seminary, so he hopes to follow along reasonably well during the Mass, which will be in the Argentine pope's native Spanish.

"It will be tricky, but I'll do my best," he said.

Like many of the 25,000 people attending the papal Mass, Father Hinkle will swipe his Smartrip card and ride the Metro to the shrine.

Father Hinkle was ordained last year, and has now celebrated a good number of Masses. This one, however, will be different in many ways, and he'll be wearing special attire.

"We've been asked to wear an alb and white stole," said Father Hinkle. An alb is a full-length white ecclesiastical vestment; the stole is composed of a strip of material, several inches wide, which is worn around the neck.

"And I'm going to wear well-polished shoes," Father Hinkle added, laughing.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015