OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington State Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib announced Thursday he’s not running for re-election and instead will be joining the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church.

“I am deeply grateful to those who have made it possible for me to serve these past eight years in public office,” Habib wrote on Twitter Thursday. “But over the last few years, I’ve felt called to a different vocation, albeit one that is also oriented around service. 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 others.”

Habib has served as the lieutenant governor since 2016. Before that, he served in the State House of Representatives and the State Senate. He is currently the president of the State Senate and acts as governor when Governor Jay Inslee leaves the state. Habib is also co-chair of the Democratic Lieutenant Governor's Association. 

Gov. Inslee reacted to the news Thursday, saying Habib's life and career are an "inspiration" to many. 

"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," said Gov. Inslee in a statement. "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.”

Habib will be joining the Society of Jesus, which is a religious order of the Catholic Church that is headquartered in Rome. Currently, Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope.

Habib wrote a longer explanation in America: The Jesuit Review, where he talked more about his faith and his decision.

"Jesuits are known for their dedication to education, particularly higher education, for their philosophy of finding God in all people, cultures and things, for their advocacy for a more inclusive church and world and for serving as spiritual directors rooted in the contemplative practices of Ignatian spirituality," Habib wrote in the magazine. "And now Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, has brought these values to his leadership of the global church and, in so doing, inspired a generation of Catholics to re-engage with their faith. 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."

Habib is a three-time cancer survivor and has been fully blind since he was eight years old. He is the first and only Iranian-American to hold statewide elected office in the United States, according to his biography.

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