It is on the delicate border between life and death that harrowing, almost angry questions arise: Why me? Why does God do this to me? If in these moments, in addition to an expertise as a doctor, you are also capable of transmitting hope and respecting the values of others, you realize how important your presence can be among these patients. Everything becomes “sweeter”, even suffering.
Sister Costanza Galli knows that within the rooms of the palliative care ward of the public hospital of Livorno she can be a “sign” and she doesn’t hide it. She keeps wearing the habit of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. “Every day there are stories of patients and families to listen to and to share, one after another. Recently I’ve met many people at the last stage of their lives who gave me much more than I was able to give them”.
Sister Costanza is in touch with those patients who enlightened her vocation: “That’s right,” confides Sr. Costanza, “I graduated in medicine, then I specialized in oncology. During my academic career, I’ve spent a lot of time with patients who were at the terminal phase of their lives. I’ve realized little by little, but in a powerful way, what God wanted me to be!”
Their eyes reveal the suffering God: “Seeing Jesus in these people changed my vison radically”. In the context of the palliative care ward, to be a Daughter of Charity has a very particular meaning: “Saint Vincent de Paul is the inventor of the networks of charity, and the core of our charism is right there: Jesus in the poor. Who else, more than a patient close to death, can be considered poor? Thoughtful little kindnesses, attention to details and delicacy with words, smiling, fruitful silences lived together: the whole of a thousand daily nuances draws the plot of a given life. In the first place, it’s necessary to be respectful. “Because of the role that I hold,” underlines Sister Costanza, “I want and I have to be respectful of everyone’s opinion. At the same time I don’t want to hide who I am, because I know that for someone my dress could be a help. Of course, much depends on what you say and on what you do. You are respected if you are the one who first respects others.”
Furthermore, there’s alittle deep secretthat sustainsthe effortsof SisterCostanza: every evening, when she returns to the Sisters atSt. Joseph House in Quercianella, thereisa whole communitysupporting her. “The mission in this servicein this public hospital of Livornois notmy personal choice, buta choice made by the wholecommunity,who constantlyencourages meand supports me.” Contemplativein action: in the hospital Costanza gives her body and her soul toher patients, in Quercianella, the community of sisterssupports her with thepower of prayer.“It isa real familywhere I can consider my perspectives in the light of others, share advice, discussandmake peace. It is the Vincentian charismthat wants meto be at the service of the poor in the hospital!
“Day after day I am absorbed in this world; I am in touch with dozens and dozens of people often with ideas contrary to mine. But then, after a day of fatigue, worries and questions, in front of the Blessed Sacrament my concerns disappear, my heart is at peace and I find confirmation of my choice.” These words are the core of the path chosen by Sister Costanza.
By Gianluca Maggiore (taken from an article of “Toscana oggi”)
Link to video (in Italian) advance to 2 min. to meet Sr. Costanza.