A Ministry of Joy, Covid and Lunch

By: Rev. Dr. Rachelle Zazzu, Chaplain, Mount Sinai Queens

May 7th, 2020

A Ministry of Joy, Covid and Lunch


Rev. Dr. Rachelle Zazzu, Chaplain, Mount Sinai Queens.

I am an initiate and a Minister in the church of MSIA and this is a most precious gift.

I am more and more grateful for it as I work as the sole chaplain in one of the two hardest hit Covid hospitals in the country. And I could tell you about it in the most most most dramatic ways and it would all be true. I could tell you about how much death we have seen, how much fear our clinical staff has, the depth of our grief as we bury our own and family of our own, the existential pain of isolating from spouses with cancer and special needs children and the surreal nature of having your family member die in a hospital that you are not allowed to be in…..but, really, why?

It wouldn’t translate to anything “real”.

I understand now why veterans don’t talk about their service. It’s because, over Sunday pancakes with the folks there is no way to translate what it is like to crawl on your belly in the desert to stay alive.

And so we just don’t try anymore.

I do reach out to an extremely small group of MSIA friends when it gets the better of me or when I am not my best self….and the love and the Light and blessings of our ministerial body, our Traveler…both here and Emeritus….are sustaining at a level I didn’t know existed, let alone have the wit to pray for.

So that’s the end of the dramatic part of the narrative.

I am not a clinical member of the Interdisciplinary team. I can not heal, give meds, or transport patients…so I use the coin in my purse, every day, all day long.

I sing out loud uplifting songs in my profoundly off key voice, which makes the staff laugh which is a blessing.

Friends have donated enough funds that I have been able to provide free lunch for nearly every staff member of my hospital which they LOVE.

I pray out loud at the huddles.

I call in the Light for deceased patients as the only memorial they will ever get due to Covid and the burial laws surrounding it.

I sing the names of the dead and write their name in the book of life on every unit, on every floor, every day, remembering that inside my 8 foot Cube of Light is protection, Light, grace, mercy, compassion and joy.

I ask the ministerial body to extend out in front of me and to embrace us all with those qualities.

There is nothing better these days than walking around the ICU singing OH HAPPY DAY and having the doctors, nurses, nurses aides, unit clerks, transport clerk, respiratory therapists and radiologist burst out laughing when the head of the ICU says “Chaps..don’t quit your day job” (Chaps for chaplain).

Friends send me jokes and I post them on every unit. They are silly…ergo…perfect.

John Morton has posted songs and poems and I post them on every unit. They are profound and they provide a moment of gratitude for the staff.

It is ridiculous to say I am the chaplain. Better to say….we…MSIA…we are the chaplain at Mount Sinai Queens. We have faith in God, in our Traveler and in each other.

We have been blessed with radiant health in the middle of a real and deadly pandemic and we will eat pancakes together for lunch one day soon. May the syrup flow freely on that day.

In loving service,
Rev. Dr. Rachelle Zazzu
Mount Sinai Queens

P.S. How does a scientist freshen her breath? With Experi-mints!!!!
PPS. The brown bag in the picture is for my PPE after use in the Emergency Room.

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