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Jessica Thayer Priase in Purple Adress 6/2/2019
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Trinity Episcopal Church

Praise in Purple Address

Sunday June 2, 2019

Jessica Thayer

WVU College of Medicine Graduate Class of 2019


Today we praise in purple to raise awareness for brain pathology and Alzheimer’s disease. I think it is safe to assume that many of us have heard of the disease and associate it with old age and forgetfulness. These associations are true of course but, I feel that the importance of today and of Alzheimer awareness is two-fold. First, to discuss the patterns and features of the disease for public understanding and second to surround those in our community facing Alzheimer’s with support and hope. The tragedy of the disease is the loss of the mind, the loss of what makes us who we are as individuals, the loss of the memory of our loved ones. People in early stages of the disease may only forget small details or notice a loss of concentration. However, the progression is unrelenting and devastating as people may eventually get lost on roads they traveled hundreds of times or even come to forget their own name. This is a scary concept to us all. To maintain a consciousness but one that has minimal recollection of personal moments and individuality. To think of the difficult state those with the disease must live in, and to fear that after living a long life, it could also happen to us. Although “Purple Sunday” is unique in its topic, it is similar to all our other Sunday’s. Each week we face loss, tragedy, and fear. And each Sunday we are told that is not all we have. There is hope. There is hope nationwide as Alzheimer’s awareness and Praise in Purple raise support. There is hope right here in Morgantown as Dr. Ali Rezai and his team at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute begin an innovative clinical trial, the only one in the U.S that is harnessing ultrasound as a treatment modality. There is hope here at Trinity that although members of our parish battle disease and personal loss, we do not face that alone. Our hope is that ultimately there will be a cure here on Earth. Our ultimate hope is in our faith that Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.


Many of you know that recently I graduated from medical school and will begin as a resident physician here at Ruby. What many of you may not know is how this education has changed me. I’ve noticed that I am sharply aware of mortality and am surprised not by disease but by health. I have chosen a profession I feel absolutely privilege to pursue, but one that pursues an unachievable goal. Physicians may successfully treat and cure disease, but really only come to delay what faces us all. And with this reality and the pain of mortality always on my mind, I come to Trinity. I want to thank each of you for your support during the challenge of medschool. I want to ask you to continue to support Ron here, and all the other students we have, as they face their own academic pursuits. You all foster a sincere community here at Trinity because you sincerely care for each other. I encourage us all today to continue fostering what is unique here. To look after each other facing the difficulties of Alzheimer’s and other brain disease. To ask how we are doing, and to offer a conversation over coffee. To quote Father Mike, keep feeding the hungry, and helping the poor. Because through these acts, we not only provide hope to those we serve, but we provide hope to ourselves. That cures can be found. That those hungry can be fed. And that the love we share for each other reflects the love Christ has for us. In many ways my journey to becoming a physician is just starting, and I am so happy I will continue it here with all of you because you all remind me that although sickness and death is a reality, it is not all there is. Thank you.