Rev. Richard D. Osterman, 85, died September 25, 2021, in Billings, MT, at St. John’s Nursing Home after a long illness. He served as a Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings for 52 years. His funeral Mass of Christian Burial will take place in Red Lodge at St. Agnes Church on October 2, 2021, at 11:00 a.m., with interment to follow in Red Lodge.
Father Osterman was born on September 2, 1936, in Great Falls and was raised in Black Eagle. His parents were George Herman Osterman and Mary Helen (Simac) Osterman. He graduated from Great Falls Central Catholic High School and then attended the College of Great Falls. After two years, he enrolled in Montana Tech School of Mines in Butte where he received a degree as a petroleum engineer. After working in this field for a few years with Northern Testing Laboratories in Billings, he discerned his vocation to the priesthood. He studied theology at Resurrection Seminary in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and St. Thomas Seminary in Kenmore, Washington. He was ordained at St. Ann Cathedral in Great Falls on April 12, 1969.
Father Osterman’s first brief assignment was at St. Luke’s Church in Great Falls, and then he was transferred to Sacred Heart Church in Glendive, where he served as associate priest. In 1970, he returned to Great Falls where he was in residence at St. Ann Cathedral Parish and was appointed to the Office of Religious Education of the Diocese as Co-Director.
In August 1973, he was assigned to serve as Co-Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Circle. In 1978, he became Co-Pastor of St. Leo’s Church in Lewistown and served there until 1984, at which time he entered an educational sabbatical in Rome, Italy.
He returned to Great Falls in July of 1985 and served as Pastor of St. Luke’s Parish. In 1991 he moved to Red Lodge where he served as pastor until he was granted retirement from active ministry in 2001.
Father Osterman served on numerous diocesan advisory boards and commissions, including a term as a member of the College of Consultors in 1979.
He enjoyed cultivating a large vegetable and flower garden whenever possible, and loved cooking, especially his favorite pasta dishes. He loved to travel, and he spent time not only in Italy, but also went to Yugoslavia (Croatia), Greece, Spain, and Mexico. His other passions included enjoying the outdoors, skiing, and horseback riding. His training as an engineer was useful in terms of the practical side of parish operations. He was instrumental in the design and construction of St. Agnes Church in Red Lodge in 1998. He was especially proud of his Croatian heritage and was always ready with a story of fun and adventure.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his siblings, Laverne (Bill) Gratz, Donald (Laura), Howard (Dorothy), Eugene and Ronald, and nephews, George Osterman and Curtis Gratz, and niece, Tracey Palombi. He is survived by his nieces and nephews: Cheryl Hedges, Christine Crawford, Chuck Osterman, Donna Carlson, Susan Osterman, Tony Osterman, Tim Osterman, Catherine Annala, Steve Osterman, Elise Wolff, Dale Osterman, Mike Osterman, Allen Osterman, Karen Osterman and Gary Gratz, many great and great-great nieces and nephews, and many brother priests of eastern Montana.
He was known for his exuberant spirit, and his pastoral kindness especially to those in situations of pain or loss. He loved life and serving as a pastor; his infectious smile and lively blue eyes will be missed.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Agnes Church, P O Box 1067, Red Lodge, MT, 59068.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.