REVERAND Sujes McIntosh seemed destined from birth to be a person of virtue and reverence.
Coming from a deeply religious family, McIntosh’s now-deceased father Hollis McIntosh wanted to pay homage to Jesus Christ. From the name Jesus, he coined her unique name using the five letters.
McIntosh, 42, a Spiritual Baptist leader, lives at Enterprise in Chaguanas. Rev Suzy, as many people fondly call her, was ordained in 2019.
"I was born into this faith. Spiritual elevation prompted me to become a minister of the Lord. Being a minister entails helping and working for the Lord. I am always willing to help," McIntosh told Newsday.
"Regardless of what, I always give a listening ear and give comforting advice. I have a passion for these things. A person can never do too much for the Lord. In a person’s spiritual life, there are always ladders. I always wanted to climb the ladder. I officially became a reverend two years ago."
McIntosh preaches at St Michael Angelic Sacred Court in Petit Valley. The church is a member of the Council of Elders Spiritual Shouter Baptist Faith in TT.
She grew up with her parents, siblings and extended family at her current location. The family had a Baptist church at the back of their home. Her uncle, Bishop Fitzgerald White, who died over a decade ago, headed the now-defunct church.
As a child, McIntosh was always fascinated by religious practices.
McIntosh beamed with delight as she reminisced her childhood days with her ten siblings and other relatives.
"I was always excited to go to church. I loved the singing, drumming and dancing. I loved the fellowship. We used to go on pilgrimages all over the country. I was never late for church because I was always looking forward to it," McIntosh said.
Baptists tend to sing and clap loudly as well as shout during worship sessions. Even in death, services tend to be upbeat and vibrant.
On Tuesday, TT celebrates Spiritual Baptist/Shouter Liberation Day. This public holiday commemorates the repealing of the Shouters Prohibition Ordinance of 1917. Worshippers were criminalised for practising the faith. In 1951, the draconian law was repealed, paving the way for Baptists to worship freely without persecutions.
"Many people still do not understand our religion. Just like the other faiths, we believe in one God. People have misconceptions because they do not understand us," McIntosh said.
She also loves wearing religious garments, which include head coverings.
In TT, it is uncommon for religious leaders to wear nose rings. When asked about hers, McIntosh responded they were for spiritual reasons as well as fashion. She opted not to say any more about it.
Last year, owing to the pandemic, the church did not have any celebrations to commemorate the holiday. Although covid19 restrictions have now been relaxed, McIntosh acknowledged that this year’s celebrations would be scaled down and shortened compared to previous years.
McIntosh intends to spend the holiday by attending another’s church celebration with her "spiritual brothers and sisters."
The mother of one called on everyone to show love to each other to make the country a better one.
"If we portray love from the heart, we can have a better country. If a person does not have a love for himself/ herself, he/ she cannot have a love for others. If I have a love for someone, I will not do negative things to harm him/her," McIntosh said.
"If we do not have love, then we have hate. Hate is about destruction."
Apart from "working for the Lord", McIntosh works as a line operator at Diversfy Ltd, a bottling company.
The reverend said she is pleased to have become a woman of the cloth and thanked her leader, Bishop Aneal Maraj, for mentoring her on her spiritual journey.