The Peace with Dementia Rosary Offers Solace to Catholic Caregivers

By Matthew Estrade

I remember the moment when my mother sat me down during Thanksgiving college break in the late 1990s to tell me that my grandfather’s dementia had gotten so bad that he could not remember her name.

My grandfather was in a nursing facility in New Orleans, but mom still struggled to emotionally cope with being a caregiver. No one could have guessed how that moment would impact me and thousands of caregivers – or as I call them – “care partners.” After losing my Louisiana home in the destruction of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, I continued working and enrolled in a gerontology master’s program at the University of Louisiana (ULM) in Monroe, LA.   

While in school, I was facilitating the same care partner support group that I lead today, and I noticed many participants talking about their faith. This guided me to see how the Catholic faith, especially the Holy Rosary, could be a special resource.

Matthew Estrade, The Peace with Dementia RosaryAfter graduation, but still in writing-mode, I spent a year of late nights and early mornings to write The Peace with Dementia Rosary: Education, Intentions, Community. The book is a spiritual and practical care guide for Catholics seeking a primer on dementia education, built around intentions and the prayers of the Holy Rosary, and emphasizing the strength of community. Brian LeBlanc, an advocate, speaker, and person living with dementia penned the foreword. The book was granted the Imprimatur by Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans on June 6, 2019.   

Since its publication, the book has turned into a community that I foster through an online prayer wall, daily Facebook live videos, weekly blog articles, and a monthly Facebook live Rosary and Dementia Q&A. I also facilitate a monthly care partner support group at my parish, Mary, Queen of Peace (MQP) Catholic Church in Mandeville, LA. The MQP group has become a model for groups that I seek to create in other dioceses all over the country. If there are parishes that want their own dementia support group, I’ll help them get started.

The feedback from both care partners and professionals have been very encouraging. Care partner Joe B. wrote,  “I love how you related the intentions of the mysteries to dementia. I feel blessed having you guide me through this journey with my wife of 52 years. You have discovered your ministry.”  Ralph L. Piedmont, Ph.D., Managing Director, Center for Professional Studies states, “I found The Peace with Dementia Rosary to be a wonderful pastoral piece! Your commentary was very insightful, compassionate, and supportive. There are many tough motivations going on in such situations and works such as yours can be a real asset to them.” The book has also resonated with many non-Catholics who appreciate the practical dementia tips.

The vision of The Peace with Dementia Rosary book, its social media, and support groups is to offer a level of education and comfort that I wish my mom had as a care partner.

Purchase The Peace with Dementia Rosary Now

The Spanish version is now available in PDF

La version espagnole est désormais disponible en PDF

About the Author

Matthew Estrade, The Peace with Dementia RosaryMatthew “Matt” Estrade, MA, MBA is a gerontologist in the Greater New Orleans area, residing in the Mary, Queen of Peace Church Parish in Mandeville, Louisiana, where he is a member of the Health Ministry Team. His grandfather had probable Wernicke-Korsakoff type dementia in the late 1990s. Matthew has dedicated his career to helping families who are experiencing dementia find hope and peace on this challenging journey through education, coaching, and consulting.

He lives in Covington, Louisiana with his wife and three children. Matt volunteers as a Boy Scout leader at Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic School, where he is also in the Knights of Columbus. He earned his Eagle Scout award in 1992.


Connect with Matthew Estrade








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