William Dagendesh
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Troops of St. George offers adventure, spiritual growth

by William J. Dagendesh

COLORADO SPRINGS. Men and boys seeking to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ and bond closer to family are embracing the benefits gained through Troops of St. George (TSG).

Troops of St. George is a fraternal Catholic nonprofit apostolate that brings together men looking for a life of adventure and virtue. TSG is an outdoor adventure movement designed chiefly for priests, fathers and their sons ages 6-18.

TSG combines prayer and the sacraments with camping, hiking and other outdoor activities to light the way to help form holy Catholic men and boys. Although the TSG boasts some similarities to the Boy Scouts, its goals and standards are different from other scouting organizations.

For example, members wear uniforms and, through outdoor exploration, develop survival and real world skills. However, TSG fosters the mental, physical and spiritual development of boys into responsible, holy Catholic priests and fathers. TSG is an officially Church-approved Catholic apostolate.

The organization’s motto comes from St. Peter: “Honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the King.” (1 Peter 2:17). According to history, St. George was a soldier of Cappadocian Greek origin and member of the Praetorian Guard for Roman emperor Diocletian. He eventually was executed for refusing to recant his Christian faith.

Catholic author and commentator Dr. Taylor Marshall, founded TSG in May 2013.  Since that inception, TSG has evolved into scores of troops that experience thought-provoking masses on mountaintop vistas, and pray the Rosary with other males over camp fires in freezing cold temperatures.

The first troop in Colorado was established at St. Benedict Parish in Falcon. Father Michael Goodyear, pastor of St. Benedict, recalled when parishioners approached him about sponsoring  TSG.

 “It is very oriented at bringing up young men in every aspect of their lives, and takes our faith to the great outdoors. As chaplain, I try to be a presence to the program and have my own copy of the field manual, an incredible book,” Father Goodyear said.

Each TSG adult and young male is required to study the Book of Proverbs because it is the book that offers lessons in virtue and wisdom. Here, a young man learns why resisting alcoholism, financial debt, quarreling and sexual impurity is morally important. Also, he learns the riches gained through a relationship with God, and the blessing of a godly wife and family.

Prospective members are required to procure certain program materials. These include a troop starter kit, uniform guidelines and field manual. An officer’s manual is required as it contains achievement courses, advancement criteria, customs and ceremonies, ranks and requirements, safety protocol and troop structure. Modifying materials is prohibited.

Cadets carry a compass to help guide them spiritually and when seeking East. This is because the Church believed that Christ’s second coming would be revealed “from the east to the west.” The rising sun served as an image of the Resurrected Christ. Therefore, like the early Christians, TSG members pray when facing the east in response to the Gospel (Matthew 24:27).

During prayer time the TSG captain or one of the boys should shout “ad orientem” while the other males face east. Through TSG, members have learned to kneel on mossy forest floors while making their confession; catch a Friday meal by fly fishing for trout; and other skills such as marksmanship, rock climbing,  archery and survival skills.

Overall, members learn to develop a love for the priesthood and a reverence for marriage, and foster a desire to support their local parish, priests, bishops and community through works of mercy and service. Experienced TSG members usually understand how the organization can transform not only individual males, but entire parishes.

According to the website, TSG members salute their officers, the flag, banners of the saints and Our Lady, and crucifixes with the “Trinitarian Salute” — three fingers of the right hand (index, middle, ring) out, and with the pinky and thumb joined signifying that the divine nature of Christ is joined to his human nature.

“We are Troop 711, the first in Colorado, and the flag was designed by our members. Alongside all of this is the bronze statue of St. George, our patron. Blessed by Bishop Golka, it stands as a reminder of the constant battle that men are called to wage against evil. Of course, the boys love the chivalry in this,” Father Goodyear said.

According to the TSG website (https://troopsofstgeorge.org), the five steps to starting a troop are:

• Find an adult male to serve as troop captain. Previous experience as an outdoorsman is helpful but not necessary.

• Recruit adult and young men to become members.

• Have the sponsoring priest complete an online endorsement letter.

• Review and become familiar with the TSG officer and field manuals to gain a better understanding of troop operation.

• Schedule the first troop event (campout, rock climbing, hiking, fishing, etc.)

TSG recommends that members live within a reasonable distance of each other. Also, prospective members are encouraged to attend an event to get a feel for the organization before they join.

TSG was approved as a Catholic apostolate by Bishop Michael Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas. All of the boys and adult leaders are Catholics in good standing with full fidelity to the Catholic magisterium, the Holy Father and the local bishop.

“I have the highest hopes for these men and their sons, and I frequently imagine the future of this program with a growing number of junior and senior cadets that will blaze the trail for future generations,” Father Goodyear said.

Presently, dues cost about $4 a month per member (with a family household cap of about $10 monthly). TSG asks for payment annually, so that equates to about $40 annually for one member and $120 maximum household cap. 

The TSG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization although donations are welcome and encouraged. All donations are 100% tax-deductible to the full extent of the law and 100% of donations go toward the apostolate. To learn more write Troops of Saint George, 520 E Vine St. #80044, Keller, TX 76244 or call 817-523-9707. The website is https://troopsofsaintgeorge.org.

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