(all names have been changed to protect the faithful)

“Where’s Diana? We need Diana. Diana can find a Mass anywhere!” said Sharon.

It was 4:30 p.m. The boys had finished the Saturday portion of their AAU basketball tournament. We’d all be back the next day, Sunday, at 11:30 a.m. The tournament, like all the tournaments, was about 75 miles away. Almost all the families on our team are Catholic.

In case you don’t know, going to Mass is an obligation. It’s not something you can skip unless you have a good reason. Some people might find this oppressive. This group of families considers it a challenge. When they can work one in on the fly, they rejoice.

At the previous tournament, the Saturday games were scheduled at 12 noon and 7 p.m. That left time to squeeze in a quick Mass. Diana got out her iPhone, found something at 5 o’clock in Manor, Texas, and she and Kathy went.

“The homily was only four sentences long!” Kathy told me later. “We were in and out in 35 minutes. Back in plenty of time for the next game.”

Kathy, Diana, Sharon, and the other moms prefer these Saturday night services so that they can sleep in on Sunday mornings (unless we draw the early game).

“Sunday mornings are so hard,” Kathy said. “We all work all week. And with these tournaments, it’s just easier to find a Saturday night Mass.”

When these families aren’t in tournament season, they are the faithful ones at our local church—teaching, leading, reading. These boys have grown up together, worshipped together, lost a friend together, and tournamented together.

The only other person I know who takes church this seriously is another friend of mine that I ran into at the tournament, a friend whose husband is a Lutheran pastor.

“We weren’t sure about these Sunday tournaments, but so far we’ve been able to work it out,” Amy said to me on Saturday. “Chris is bringing [our son] back here tomorrow.”

“Is Chris off?” I asked. “He doesn’t have to preach?”

“Oh, he does,” Amy said. “But the game’s not until 3. We won’t miss church.”