From the campaign trail to the Camino for Rocco Rossi

  • November 4, 2010
rocco rossi pilgrimageTORONTO - Over the past year, Rocco Rossi has ventured across Toronto trying to win over voters during his mayoral campaign. But now he’s going on a journey of a different kind: the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage in Spain.  

“It was a very intense year that I’ve just gone through,” Rossi told The Catholic Register. Rossi had been hard on the campaign trail over that time, but finally pulled out of the municipal election, won by Rob Ford, two weeks shy of election day due to low numbers in the polls.

“I’d like some time to reflect on what I’ve learned and think about how and what I’d like to do going forward.”

Part of that time will be spent on his feet, taking on one of the world’s most famous pilgrimages.

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.

“This is the third time I’m walking the Camino,” said Rossi, a Catholic. “I’ve gone at different times in my life when I want to reflect and refresh.”

He said the Camino helps pilgrims to get in touch with one of the victims of modern life: stillness.

“We’re constantly surrounded by appointments, noises, Blackberrys and cellphones so we very rarely have time to be still and know God,” he said. “And the Camino gives you that.”

And Rossi said it’s hard not to feel the energy of the place.

“You’re travelling in the footsteps that millions have walked in for over a thousand years. They’ve laughed, cried, prayed, bled and some have died on the way.”

Rossi related how the townspeople along the path constantly open their doors to pilgrims.

“There are people who leave food at their doorstep and never ask anything more than, ‘When you get to Santiago, pray for me.’ ”

Rossi said he’ll be walking 900 km in total: The 800-km pilgrimage, which will take him from Roncesvalles to Santiago, as well as an extra 100 km to a small town on the Atlantic called Finisterre. This final leg is not part of the religious pilgrimage.

He’s now looking past his run at the mayor’s seat and trying to decide what he will do in the future. Rossi said since he’s a big believer in the importance of public service, he’ll be looking for ways to serve, even if it’s not in elected office.

“I spent four years as the CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and that was an amazing way to serve so I’ll just be thinking of opportunities,” he said. “I’ve been made several offers already so I’ll be thinking of those as I walk.”

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