Washington state Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib announced that he's retiring from public office to become a Jesuit priest.
Habib, a rising Democratic Party politician and cancer survivor who has been blind since he was 8 years old, made the announcement on Thursday.
In a column for the Jesuit publication America Magazine published the day of his announcement, Habib explained that his decision came after “two years of careful and prayerful discernment.”
He noted that his political career was “firmly rooted in Catholic social teaching, which places the poor, the sick, the disabled, the immigrant, the prisoner and all who are marginalized at the center of our social and political agenda.”
“But over the past couple of years, I have felt called to a different vocation, albeit one that is also oriented around service and social justice,” wrote Habib.
“I have felt a calling to dedicate my life in a more direct and personal way to serving the marginalized, empowering the vulnerable, healing those who suffer from spiritual wounds and accompanying those discerning their own futures.”
Habib went on to note that “while we certainly continue to need people of good will to serve in elected office, meeting the challenges our country faces will require more than just policy-making.”
“At this point, it is too early for me to know where my life as a Jesuit will take me, but I am confident that it will involve teaching, intercultural and interfaith dialogue, advocacy and spiritual accompaniment,” he continued.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a fellow Democrat, said in a statement released Wednesday that he was “surprised” by Habib’s decision given his “meteoric career in elected public service.”
“While the news was unexpected, anyone who knows Cyrus is not surprised by his commitment to faith. I have no doubt his future in the Jesuit priesthood will bring much good to a world that needs it right now,” Inslee said.
“Trudi and I wish Cyrus all the best as his life of public service now turns to a new stage that will be impactful to many.”
A first-generation American born to Iranian immigrants, Habib previously served in the state House of Representatives in 2012 and then the state Senate in 2014.
As part of his political position, Habib served as president of the state Senate and acting governor whenever Inslee is away from the state.