TORONTO - After 31 years Romeo Meleca knows that he won’t be able to make too many more 200-km pilgrimages on foot to the Holy Cross of Teopoli near Gravenhurst, Ont.

“I did this in 1981 by myself and I’m willing still to carry on as long as I live, as long as I can,” said Meleca after beginning his annual journey at All Saints Church in Etobicoke on July 7. “On July 17, two days after the walk, I’ll be 81 years of age so I don’t know how many more years I will be able to walk, but I hope to able to live until I’m 100 and able to walk until I’m 100. That’s quite a wish but it doesn’t cost anything to wish.”

Wishes aside, as the eldest participant in the annual pilgrimage — he is joined this year by nine others — Meleca knows the reality of physical hardships associated with age. At 37 he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and less than a decade later, he needed crutches to walk.

Published in Canada