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Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib leaves behind political 'autopilot' life, joins Jesuit religious order

In this Jan. 30, 2019 file photo, Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib presides over the Senate at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren
/
The Associated Press
In this Jan. 30, 2019 file photo, Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib presides over the Senate at the Capitol in Olympia.

In state politics, it’s the season when candidates file paperwork announcing their campaigns. Challengers line up against incumbents, who dig in and tout their accomplishments.

Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib will not be joining them. He announced in March that he’s leaving elected office for the Catholic church. The move shocked everyone from constituents to fellow elected officials. 

Habib explained his decision to join a Jesuit order in a piece for America magazine

And he told KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco that the decision was the result of seeking an openness to God. Habib says that his professional life was on “autopilot.” He had become successful, winning several elections and climbing the ranks of the state Democratic party, without stopping to ask himself if that trajectory made him feel fulfilled. 

As Habib says, that autopilot feeling reminded him of a time when he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, chasing academic achievement. Back then, he says, he had no relationship with God. But when friends invited him to a Mass, he had an “encounter with the transcendent.”

Ed Ronco came to KNKX in October 2013 as producer and reporter for KNKX’s Morning Edition. Ed started in public radio in 2009 at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska, where he covered everything from city government, to education, crime, science, the arts and more. Prior to public radio, Ed worked in newspapers, including four years at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, where he covered business, then politics and government.