New group for clergy abuse survivors in Central Mass.

A new support group is forming in the Worcester area to help victims of clergy abuse.

The group, which will meet every fourth Tuesday of the month, will be affiliated with the national Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

David O’Regan, 61, of Spencer, who is helping put the local group together, told the Worcester Telegram and Gazzette that its mission is to keep children safe, help victims heal, and promote public safety.

Mr. O’Regan said he was abused by a priest while attending a summer camp in Wellesley that was run by a Roman Catholic religious order. He said the new group will meet at in Auburn.

“People who were abused need help, even years after the incident occurred,” he said.

Mr. O’Regan said there was a local SNAP chapter, but it closed some time ago. Those seeking help and counseling now attend SNAP organizations in Springfield and Boston.

Mr. O’Regan said he was abused by the Rev. Richard J. Ahern, who was the director of Camp Elm Bank. Rev. Ahern is now dead. Mr. O’Regan said the abuse began when he was 11, but he didn’t tell anyone until the scandal of priestly sexual abuse rocked the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002.

“I had protected myself from the horrors of my abuse as a child by not allowing my mind to ever revisit the abuse,” he said. “I always knew it happened, but I kept myself from thinking about it.”

According to published reports, several boys charged they were abused at the camp, which was run by the Stigmatine Fathers. The camp was held at a campus along the Charles River that served as a “minor seminary” for high school boys hoping to become priests.

The estate was sold in 1971 and is now a state park and the headquarters of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

Mr. O’Regan said he felt better emotionally when he began attending a Boston-area SNAP group in 2004. He said he found out about the group from a SNAP
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“Members shared stories of their abuse, their nightmares. Their nightmare was my nightmare and mine theirs,” said Mr. O’Regan. “I listened and understood the pain of others and they listened and understood mine.”

The local group’s first meeting is April 24.