Cyrus Habib made the announcement — where else? — in America magazine:
Earlier today, I announced that I will not be running for re-election as Washington State’s lieutenant governor and have decided to enter the Society of Jesus. This decision follows two years of careful and prayerful discernment.
But because that process has been almost entirely private, I realize that this will come as a major surprise to my constituents and supporters. Many will be wondering why someone who has spent the last eight years climbing the political ladder and who has a not insignificant chance of acceding to the governorship next year, would trade a life of authority for one of obedience. I want to take a moment to discuss this decision as well as to express my profound gratitude to all those who have helped make these eight years in elected office so successful and rewarding.
I was elected as state representative in 2012, state senator in 2014 and lieutenant governor in 2016. My reasons for running for those positions and my priorities in office were 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. I knew from childhood what it was like to be excluded for being a blind kid from an Iranian family, and I have tried to use the power I have been given by the voters to ensure that we move urgently toward that day when no one will feel left behind or left out in our society.
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. 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.
An article accompanying his announcement notes:
Born to Iranian immigrants in Maryland, he is the first and only Iranian-American to hold statewide elected office.
Mr. Habib is also a three-time cancer survivor and has been blind since the age of 8.
God be with him as he begins this amazing journey.
Below is a profile of him from two years ago.