Fr. Cletus M.S. Watson, T.O.R., 78, of the Third Order Regular Franciscans of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, died early Saturday, January 28, 2017 at UPMC Altoona after a brief illness. He was a member of the community at St. Francis Friary-Mt. Assisi, Loretto, Pennsylvania. He was born November 3, 1938 in Philadelphia, PA, and given the name Claude. He was the son of the late Ernest Samuel Watson, who was in the army and killed in action in the North African Campaign in 1944, and Claudie Bridges Watson. His mother raised him in the Baptist faith and after moving to Detroit, Michigan, he received his early education from the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and decided he wanted to embrace Roman Catholicism. He and his mother returned to Philadelphia where he attended St. Anthony Grade School.
He attended Bishop Neumann High School for two years before entering St. Francis Preparatory School in Spring Grove, PA where he graduated in May, 1957. On June 30, 1957, he entered the T.O.R. novitiate at Portiuncula Friary, Washington, D.C. and began his novitiate. He professed his first vows on July 1, 1958 in Washington, D.C., and his solemn vows on July 1, 1961 in Loretto, PA. Fr. Cletus was ordained to the priesthood on May 19, 1966, at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Altoona, PA, by the late Bishop J. Carroll McCormick, D.D., bishop of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from St. Francis College (University), Loretto, PA in 1962. He completed Theological Studies at St. Francis Seminary, Loretto, PA. Fr. Cletus did graduate studies at Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio, and received a Master of Arts degree from LaSalle College (University), Philadelphia, PA. He received a Master of Divinity degree from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, PA.
During his long and very faithful Franciscan life, Fr. Cletus ministered in the various works of the Province. In education, he taught at Bishop Egan High School, Fairless Hills, PA. He taught at St. Francis Prep, Spring Grove, PA, and served as Dean of Students. He taught at St. Joseph Academy, St. Augustine, Florida. He taught at the University of Florida Medical School, Gainesville, FL. In parochial ministry, he ministered at Holy Faith Church, Gainesville, FL as assistant pastor. He was assistant pastor at San Jose Church, Jacksonville, FL. For 17 years, he served as pastor of Crucifixion Church and St. Pius X Church, Jacksonville, FL. Fr. Cletus was pastor of St Mary, Our Lady of Grace Church, St. Petersburg, FL. Because of poor health, Fr. Cletus returned to the motherhouse in Loretto here he served in the ministry of prayer. During his religious life Fr. Cletus was well known for outstanding charity. He is survived by cousins and his Franciscan brothers.