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Survivor of clergy sexual abuse presents his play at Framingham State

FROM HURT TO HEALING: Cambridge poet and playwright Michael Mack was an 11-year-old altar boy in 1968 when his favorite Catholic priest invited him to the rectory to make a costume for a church play.

The sexual abuse that Mack suffered that day haunted him for decades, and ultimately led to his autobiographical play “Conversations with My Molester: A Journey of Faith,” which he will perform Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Framingham State University’s Dwight Performing Arts Center.

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Like his earlier one-man show, “Hearing Voices, Speaking in Tongues,” about his mother’s schizophrenia and recovery, Mack said, “Conversations” is an odyssey of reconciliation, social justice, and healing.

Directed by Boston stage veteran Daniel Gidron, the lyrical, 90-minute drama is divided into four acts: Mack’s childhood dream of becoming a priest and the sexual abuse; stories recounting the ways in which he was affected; learning the priest was still alive and had abused at least two others, and imagining the conversation he wanted to have with him; and coming full circle, both literally, in a trip to Brevard, N.C., where he grew up, and figuratively, in his return to the Catholic Church.

Mack, a graduate of an MIT writing program, said the play is his way of “taking a profoundly difficult experience and making something beautiful and healing out of it.”

After debuting “Conversations’’ at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University in January 2012, he won a 2013 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship for Dramatic Writing.

“I wanted to be a priest as a boy, and although I’m not doing that now, I do feel this is a ministry,” Mack said of his writing. “This is my way of reclaiming what had always been mine.”

The free performance Wednesday night will be followed by a question-and answer session. For more information, visit www.michaelmacklive.com.

BENEFIT SKATE-A-THON: Westborough native Dave McGrath knew he waited too long to seek medical attention for his Crohn’s disease, which was so serious when it was diagnosed at age 14 that he required surgery. Having learned from that mistake, he readily reported the double vision and severe headaches that ultimately revealed a brain tumor when he was a senior at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury.

Now 39, the Worcester resident celebrated the 21-year anniversary of his final chemotherapy treatment over the Labor Day weekend.

To show his appreciation, McGrath will lead his third annual Skating for Hope fund-raiser starting at 5 p.m. Friday in the Hart Center on the College of the Holy Cross campus in Worcester. The 24-hour event, to benefit the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge-Worcester, where McGrath is the night manager, will offer activities for all ages, including ice hockey games, open skating, a figure skating demonstration, raffles, and other activities.

In its first two years, McGrath said, the fund-raiser brought in $14,000 and $17,000, respectively, to help cover the Hope Lodge’s operating costs and fulfill requests by guests for amenities such as flat-screen televisions in the guest rooms and common area. Eventually, he said, he would like to expand the fund-raiser to assist other Hope Lodge locations; the facilities provide free lodging and support for cancer patients who must travel for treatment.

“It’s great being a survivor, but I’ve known a lot of people who have passed away from cancer,” McGrath said. “I feel it’s my duty to give back.”

He said he is seeking donations of hockey and figure skates of all sizes to accommodate participants in the skate-a-thon; they may be dropped off at Hope Lodge, 7 Oak St. in Worcester, or arrangements for items to be picked up can be made by e-mailing skatingforhope@gmail.com. For more information, visit www.skatingforhope.org.

WORKING LATER: Last year, Nancy Moorhouse of Natick was enjoying her career as a midlevel information technology manager with new responsibilities in job training and technical writing when the unexpected hit: a layoff.

Although stunned, she said, she went to work updating her resume, refreshing her interviewing techniques, registering with a job placement service, taking classes, and trying “every single networking group there was.”

“I had already been thinking about what to do’’ after retirement, she recalled, “but I wasn’t ready.”

Now a regional outreach coordinator for ReServe Greater Boston, Moorhouse assists others age 55 or older in matching their skills and experience with nonprofit organizations and public agencies that have part-time openings or that need help on short-term projects. .

ReServe Greater Boston is a program of Career Moves, a division of Jewish Vocational Service. It is run in collaboration with Newton-based Discovering What’s Next, with grants from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, MetroWest Health Foundation, and private donors.

Its partner organizations include Framingham State University, Genesis Counseling Services, Jewish Family Service of Metrowest, and the Consumer Assistance Office-MetroWest. Part-time positions pay a stipend, and may involve teaching, management, finance, law, information technology, marketing, development, writing and editing, graphic design, art, social work, event planning, and administrative support.

While acknowledging any major change can be stressful, Moorhouse urges those in transition to treat it as an “opportunity to look at the opportunities.”

“The nonprofits need help, and it’s so rewarding to know you’re an integral part of the organization,” she said.

“Jump on the bandwagon and let’s go!”

The local ReServe chapter will hold an introductory meeting Oct. 2 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in Framingham. For the location and to register, visit www.reserveinc.org/greaterboston.

MUSIC FEST: Arlington resident Matt Jenson and the Liquid Revolution will be among the featured performers at the 13th annual Berklee BeanTown Jazz Festival.

The free, outdoor event will offer jazz, Latin, blues, and soul acts on three stages on Sept. 28, noon to 6 p.m., on Columbus Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and Burke Street in Boston’s South End. Jenson and his band will take the Natixis Global Asset Management Stage at 1 p.m.

Jenson is a multigenre keyboardist, singer, arranger, composer, and educator on the piano faculty at the Berklee College of Music, where his courses include “The Music and Life of Bob Marley.” His seven-piece band released its debut album, “Dragonfly Taxi,” earlier this year.

For more information, visit www.beantownjazz.org.

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cantrell@ globe.com.
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