Father Dusan Anthony Okorn, a priest in the Diocese of Helena for 60 years, died on Sunday, Jan. 10, at home at The Sycamore Tree Contemplative Prayer Center in Swan Lake. He was 88 years old.

Father Okorn was born on March 5, 1921, in Maribor, Slovenia, to Anthony Okorn and Frances Kovicic. His college studies in Ljubljana, Slovenia, were followed by seminary studies in Ljubljana and Rome. He was ordained in Rome on April 6, 1947, and served as a priest in Italy before emigrating. Father Okorn arrived in the Diocese of Helena on Dec. 1, 1949, and was incardinated into the diocese on Oct. 25, 1963.

He became a chaplain at Helena’s St. Joseph Home in 1950. During 1952-55 he served as a priest at the parishes of St. Peter in Anaconda, St. Joseph in Butte and St. Michael in Conrad. He became the pastor at St. Catherine’s Church in Bigfork in 1963, and at St. Mary Mission in Stevensville in 1971. Father Okorn moved to Swan Lake in 1979 and began the Sycamore Tree retreat apostolate. He was the founding pastor of Living Water Catholic Church in Seeley Lake and of Our Lady of Swan Valley Mission, where he served until 2006. A prayer vigil took place at Our Lady of Swan Valley Mission on Jan. 11. The funeral Mass with Msgr. Kevin O’Neill as the principal celebrant was at Our Lady of Swan Valley on Jan. 12. Burial was at The Sycamore Tree cemetery.

Father Okorn consistently emphasized the effects of baptism in the life of a Christian, and his words about baptism were quoted in the funeral homily given by Father Stephen Tallman.

Survivors of Father Okorn include a sister, Rozka Dretnik of Borovnica, Solvenia; cousins Bertie (Roger) Bisson of Clancy and Dr. Louis (Dorothy) Smith of Sherman Oaks, Calif.; nephew Jany Dretnik of London; and nephews in Slovenia.

Father Okorn had hoped to complete The Sycamore Tree cemetery’s landscaping before his death. Memorial donations for the landscaping may be sent to The Sycamore Tree, 21592 Sycamore Tree Lane, Swan Lake, MT 59911.


Published in The Montana Catholic Online, Volume 26, No. 1, January 22, 2010.