For a decade (a small anniversary) Fr. Simone Skawiński has been engaged in service for the sick in the Hospital of Galliera and since 2009 he has been a part of the chaplaincy. This chaplaincy has three priests, a permanent deacon, and a group of volunteers now made up of four extraordinary women ministers of the Eucharist. This has been a very important and indeed unique experience of cooperation between priests and lay volunteers who bring spiritual benefits to our sick people. All the patients receive a visit twice a week from a lay person and a priest. A personal visit is made to the patients of the hospital who await us in the wards.
Since the Camillians are not very well known in Genoa, since 2014 (the year of the Camillian jubilee to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the death of St. Camillus) Fr. Simone has decided to wear the cassock of the Camillians when he is inside the hospital. During this period very many people saw a Camillian for the first time. This provoked very many questions on the part of the patients themselves: who are we? What does the red cross on the chest mean? Looking back over these years, this has been a very positive and valuable experience of spreading knowledge about our Order and its founder St. Camillus amongst people.
As regards the make-up of the chaplaincy, one very important thing should be emphasised. The presence of these women volunteers is something that is very much appreciated in the contacts with the patients in this hospital context. In these kinds of context, the female soul is a greater help in creating an atmosphere of openness, dialogue and human benevolence. In a few words: it increases humanisation in these contexts and in these patients reawakens confidence.
In his Mulieris dignitatem St. John Paul II wrote: ‘The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way – precisely by reason of their femininity – and this in a particular way determines their vocation’ (n. 30).
This female and motherly behaviour suggests to all of us St. Camillus and his approach of ‘caring for the sick as a mother cares for her sick only child’.
Father Felice Koffi came to our community in 2017 from Togo and joined the chaplaincy, occupying a vacant position and being appointed the religious assistant of the Hospital of Galliera by Cardinal Bagnasco. Furthermore, he has become responsible for spiritual care for our guests in the St. Camillus Home, taking the place of Fr. Simone who was the priest who had hitherto provided that service. Fr. Felice is a valuable helper for the Camillian religious community of Genoa.