NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib to serve out term, leave politics, and join the Jesuits

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.

Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib speaking

Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor Cyrus Habib speaks at a cam­paign kick­off event for Liz Berry on March 1st, 2020 (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Said 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.”

“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! 

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  1. […] Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Den­ny Heck, who has rep­re­sent­ed Wash­ing­ton State’s 10th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict since its incep­tion in 2012, announced today that he will be a can­di­date for the office of Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor, fol­low­ing incum­bent Cyrus Habib’s deci­sion to for­go reelec­tion so he can join the Jesuits. […]

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