Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib announced today that he will be leaving politics at the end of the 2020 presidential election cycle to join the Society of Jesus, better known to some as the Jesuits or the Jesuit Order. Habib revealed in a post published on America (a prominent Jesuit publication) that he has chosen not to seek reelection this year. Instead, he will serve out the remainder of his current term as Lieutenant Governor and then depart public life for religious life.
“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.”
“For me, this is rooted in my faith in Christ’s Gospel. But my desire to encounter something greater than myself by walking with the poor and abandoned of this world will be familiar to those of many different spiritual traditions. I have come to believe that the best way to deepen my commitment to social justice is to reduce the complexity in my own life and dedicate it to serving others.”
“I have also come to believe 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,” Habib elaborated.
“People are in dire need of spiritual support and companionship. From our throwaway culture that treats workers and our environment as disposable to a new generation of young people eager to change the world but struggling with unprecedented anxiety, alienation and other mental health challenges to the fear and isolation we are all experiencing as a result of the coronavirus, this is a time when we need to ground ourselves in the wisdom of those who came before and cultivate new forms of wisdom forged in the fires of our present moment.”
In an interview with America’s Zac Davis, Habib cited Father Michael Ryan, the pastor of St. James Cathedral, as a role model and key influence, noting that Father Ryan gave him a copy of James Martin’s The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything when he was grappling with his father’s illness and death four years ago.
Reading that passage brought a smile to my face, because Father Ryan is one of the wisest, kindest men I know. He is an extraordinary priest who has comforted and counseled so many during his decades of service to Christ. His homilies provide great intellectual nourishment. They’re mentally and emotionally therapeutic.
As a Catholic myself and as fellow worshipper at St. James, I understand and respect Cyrus’ decision, and I am very happy for him. It’s totally in keeping with the man that I know and admire. We do not often see people forgo their political ambitions in order to enter religious life. But if the Roman Catholic Church is to survive and thrive, then it needs leaders like Cyrus Habib.
I look forward to Cyrus’ ordination. Jesuit faith formation can take over a decade — seriously, it’s a long process! — but I am confident Cyrus will get there, and when he does, I’ll be honored and delighted to celebrate his accomplishment with him.
Governor Jay Inslee offered his best wishes in a statement released this morning.
“Cyrus’ life and career are an inspiration to many,” the Governor said.
“He has had a meteoric career in elected public service, so I was surprised when he called me this morning to say he wasn’t running again.”
“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.
“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.”
I have faith that my path and Cyrus’ paths will cross again in the future because we share a faith tradition. So I will not say fare thee well to Cyrus when I see him. Instead, I will say Au revoir — because I know we will be meeting again.
Thank you, Cyrus, for everything, and best wishes as you undertake this new journey. The NPI team and I are pulling for you!