Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 31, 2010
Nursing career readies Obleada
WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
After Tony Obleada's spiritual awaking, he began to take his Catholic faith very seriously.
EDMONTON - During his working years as a medical doctor in the Philippines and later as a registered nurse in Canada, Tony Obleada helped others by nursing the body. Now he is shifting his attention to nursing the soul.
Specializing in the leukemia ward at the University of Alberta, Obleada, 61, officially retired from his job as a registered nurse on May 17.
"As a deacon, there is not much of a change. I will still be a nurse. This is true because nursing is about taking care of people's needs. The needs for the body and the needs for the spirit are almost the same. In nursing, there are six needs," said Obleada.
The six basic needs for the physical body are nutrition, safety, hygiene, oxygen, rest and relaxation, and elimination/excretion. With spiritual needs, an equivalent can be found for all six.
A deacon nourishes the soul with the Word of God. He keeps people safe by guiding them away from sin and preventing them from falling away from God. Hygiene of the soul is about striving for purity and leading people to holiness.
"Oxygen gives life, so as a deacon I guide them to find life through Christ. With rest and relaxation, I remind them as God has reminded us that on Sunday, the Sabbath Day, we need to rest, relax and find peace through Christ. Elimination is eliminating the impurities of the body through Confession, and remind them of the sorrow for sins," said Obleada.
"It will be a good ministry for me, except it's nursing the soul this time. The principles are the same."
Obleada's home, especially his living room, is filled with crosses, religious icons and a statue of the Blessed Mother. The walls have spiritual paintings and the Stations of the Cross. But despite being a cradle Catholic who grew up in the Philippines, there was a time when he did not know much about his faith.
"In the 1960s and 1970s we were not allowed to read the Bible, otherwise the priest said that we might become Protestant. Our parents discouraged us from reading it, and told us we should rely on the homilies," said Obleada.
He came to Canada in 1976. Always involved in the Church, his involvement increased immensely in 1994 when he had what he refers to as an "awakening" or "inspired calling."
"Since then I have been more active serving at St. Theresa's Parish through the music ministry. I play the piano and organ. Then I started to study the Bible and read it on a regular basis," he said.
In 2006 someone asked if he had ever considered becoming a deacon. He went to an orientation on the diaconate formation program, given at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. Archbishop Thomas Collins provided some insight on the ins and outs of the diaconate. Obleada saw this as an opportunity to extend his service to the Church beyond his music ministry.
The focus of his four-year diaconate formation was heavy on Scriptures, moral theology, pastoral applications, liturgy, sacraments and charity.
His diaconate formation was a real challenge, and he could not have made it through without the all-out support and encouragement of his wife, Nina. They recently celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary at Ephphatha House near Stony Plain.
"I am just so blessed with a very spiritual, prayerful and loving wife," he said.
He and the two other men being ordained went on a five-day retreat, May 10-14, at Living Water College in Derwent.
"It was a very fruitful retreat. I asked the Lord to give me a passage from the Scriptures that will guide my diaconate. After four days, on Thursday night, I had a great conversation with God.
"He gave me John 15.12: 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.' That will be the basis, the foundation, for my diaconate," said Obleada.
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