Two to be ordained to priesthood on June 15

By Rose Brennan

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano will ordain David Klein and Jozef Ukaj to the sacred priesthood on Saturday, June 15 at 11 am at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport. All are invited to celebrate this joyous occasion. A livestream will also be available here.

Klein, who most recently served as a transitional deacon at St. Gregory the Great Parish in Danbury, underwent his priestly formation at Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Stamford. He will be just the second man ordained to the priesthood from the Stamford seminary, after Father Ricardo Batista Comim—now a parochial vicar at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport. Meanwhile, Ukaj underwent his priestly studies first at St. Joseph Seminary in Dunwoodie, N.Y., followed by Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.

David Klein was born on September 22, 1993. He grew up in Trumbull with his parents and four siblings, and attended Trumbull High School. His father is a native of Bridgeport, and his mother is a native of Italy.

Since 2015, he has studied philosophy and theology as a seminarian for the Diocese of Bridgeport. In 2017, he finished studies in Pre-Theology at Sacred Heart University. He also earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Fairfield University.

His missionary experience as a seminarian of Redemptoris Mater includes service in Salt Lake City, Utah; St. Louis, Mo.; and Paterson, N.J.  In July 2018, he was sent in mission to the Pacific Islands- Kiribati, Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and Tahiti. From July 2020, he served in missions in Kansas and Missouri. 

Locally, Deacon Klein has served at his home parish, St. Margaret Shrine in Bridgeport and St. Gregory the Great Parish. He served the latter as a transitional deacon, having been ordained as such by Bishop Caggiano in June 2023.

Originally, Deacon Klein said, the thought of becoming a priest never entered his mind, thinking he’d be a doctor or teacher. But after a few grace filled opportunities during his adolescence and young adulthood, the path to the priesthood became a bit clearer, especially after a retreat on conversion and discernment during his senior year of college.

“I received a touch of grace which opened me to follow the will of God wherever it led me, knowing that it would be the best for my life,” he said. “I spent eight months discerning with a spiritual director after which I felt called to be a missionary priest, to go wherever Christ wanted to send me. In this sense, I felt an enormous gratitude for what Christ was doing in my life, for having an experience of his grace and it was this love which I wanted to share, as a treasure, with those around me.”

Deacon Klein looks forward to nearly every aspect of becoming a priest.

“I look forward to being an instrument in the hands of the Lord, to be a minister of the grace of God, of his victory over death and the freedom which comes from being his child and leading others to discover this great gift,” he said. 

Deacon Klein’s Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Saturday, June 15 at 7:30 pm at St. Raphael Church, 162 Oak St.,in Bridgeport.

Jozef Ukaj was born on March 16, 1988 in Kosovo, and is the youngest of four children. His family moved to the United States in 2000, settling in Yonkers, N.Y. Ukaj graduated from Saunders Trade and Technical High School in Yonkers, and was a blue collar worker in Manhattan for several years before entering seminary in 2015 at the age of 27.

He attended the Cathedral House of Formation Seminary in Queens, N.Y. while enrolled at St. John’s University from 2015 to 2019. He then studied at St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers from 2019 to 2022, and then at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass. from 2022 to 2024.

Deacon Ukaj most recently served at St. Jude Parish in Monroe, where he was also ordained to the transitional diaconate in April 2024, on Divine Mercy Sunday. 

Deacon Ukaj said for him, the appeal of the priesthood was “being able to devote myself completely and freely to work for the kingdom of God.”

“I am really looking forward to hearing confessions and ministering people in spiritual direction,” he said.

Deacon Ukaj’s Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated on Sunday, June 16 at 4 pm at Our Lady of Shkodra Albanian Catholic Church in Hartsdale, N.Y.