Rest in Peace: Maria Lourdes Cleto, SP

Sister Soledad Agdan

Sister Maria Lourdes Cleto, age 85, a Sister of Providence for 59 years, died Jan. 13, 2021, at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle.

Sister Maria Lourdes Cleto was born in Manila, Philippines on June 16, 1935, to Everarado and Anatalia Cleto with the name Soledad at her birth. She was the youngest of six children. Sister Maria Lourdes spent her life connecting her energy and talents to give the best of herself to the task at hand, whether in a parochial school classroom, a parish, a Native American reservation, a hospital’s chapel, or as a vocation team member.

In 1960, Sister Maria Lourdes became a postulant of the Sisters of Providence, a novice in 1961, made first profession in 1963 and her final vows in 1968.

A graduate of the College of Great Falls (Mont.) in 1969, Sister Maria Lourdes spent 15 years as a parochial schoolteacher, serving in classrooms in DeSmet, Idaho; Great Falls, Mont.; Spokane; Missoula, Mont.; and Walla Walla, Wash. She loved teaching the primary grades, especially the five years spent with Native American children from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe on the reservation in DeSmet. Inspired by her ministry with Native American children, Sister Maria Lourdes visited homes on the Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota, 10 minutes from Wounded Knee (1976-78).

After enrolling in the chaplaincy program at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, she found her heart’s desire as the only full-time staff member at St. Edward Parish in Seattle (1979). There she served with Father Joseph Tyson, now Bishop Tyson of the Yakima Diocese, for 24 years. As a pastoral assistant, she had responsibility for outreach and the RCIA program, as well as serving as director of St. Vincent de Paul and three Legion of Mary groups. She found special joy in engaging the parish’s Filipino community. After leaving St. Edward Parish, she became a member of the Sisters of Providence Vocation Team, organizing retreats for young adults.

Sister Maria Lourdes loved to dance at every opportunity, along with playing piano, seeing movies and going out with friends.

Sister Maria Lourdes is preceded in death by her parents; her brothers: Constancio Cleto, Ernesto Cleto, Alfonso Cleto, and Ricardo Cleto; and her sister Gloria Sual. She is survived by her sisters-in-law Gloria Cleto and Grace Cleto; many loving nieces, nephews and grandnieces; and the sisters in her community. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of Providence Retirement Fund, 1801 Lind Ave. SW, M1-C; Renton, WA 98057. To sign the memory book for Sister Maria Lourdes, please visit the website for Bonney-Watson Funeral Home at