FALL RIVER — Paul Kawa, a Certified Public Accountant who has worked as a financial controller for the past several years, will assume the positions of Finance Officer and Chancellor for the Fall River Diocese on June 1, Bishop George W. Coleman has announced.

He will succeed in both posts Father Michael K. McManus, who has asked to be assigned to full-time parish ministry after serving in diocesan administration for 28 years.

With the appointment, Kawa will become the first layperson to serve in these two key diocesan administrative positions.

Kawa has been a member of the Fall River Diocesan Finance Council for the past 13 years and through his service on that advisory council has gained extensive knowledge of diocesan and parish finances. He has already begun training with Father McManus to prepare for a smooth transition in June.

“I am pleased that Paul is a native of the diocese and has been involved with the council for all these years,” said Father McManus. “He’s aware of the happenings in the diocese and is extremely bright. He’s going to be a great asset and this is a happy development for the diocese.”

As Finance Officer, Kawa will oversee temporal areas of diocesan administration such as budgeting of ministries and offices; monitoring finances of parishes; legal matters involving parishes, schools, and diocesan offices; insurance coverage; employee benefits; construction and renovation projects; and the Diocesan Development Office.

As Chancellor, he will serve as the chief record keeper, managing the gathering and safeguarding of all diocesan documents along with the archivist.

Kawa said Father McManus “has done a remarkable job keeping things in order” and acknowledged that he has “so much to learn from him in a short period of time.”

“I am sure I will have ideas about how things should be done, but the people in this Chancery building are a team, and I will rely heavily on their experience, knowledge and expertise. Everything I do will be in collaboration with them. They have priceless institutional knowledge here.”

Kawa is a summa cum laude graduate of Bryant College after which he began his career at Ernst and Young in Providence. From there he went on to serve in a variety of senior financial roles for a number of manufacturing and technology companies, most recently as corporate controller at EnerNOC in Boston.

Born and raised in Taunton, he graduated from Coyle and Cassidy High School in that city. He now resides in Mansfield, Mass., with his wife Karen and their two daughters.

The hiring of a lay person with appropriate credentials to serve the Finance Officer and/or Chancellor is becoming normative in many dioceses as available priests become fewer and their service needed for ministerial work.

The Church’s Code of Canon Law mandates that every diocesan bishop, following consultation with the Diocesan College of Consultors and Finance Council, appoint a Finance Officer. The appointment is for a five-year term after which the incumbent may be reappointed. The position of Chancellor is also required by Canon Law; that appointment is left to the discretion of the bishop.

In his announcement, Bishop Coleman said he was pleased that Kawa has agreed to work for the diocese.

“With his knowledge, his experience, and his many fine personal qualities, I know Mr. Kawa will be an asset to our diocese, the bishop said. “I ask all to welcome him warmly.”

Bishop Coleman also acknowledged the years of service of Father McManus at the Chancery, noting that Father McManus would have preferred to be full-time in a parish and “in fact made that request more than once.”

Father McManus was appointed Vice Chancellor to work in the Finance Office by then-Bishop Daniel A. Cronin only eleven months after his ordination to the priesthood in 1985. Bishop Cronin reappointed him as the Finance Officer in 1991. Then-Bishop Sean O’Malley appointed him Diocesan Chancellor in 1995, and reappointed him as Finance Officer in 1996 and in 2001. At his own request, he also began serving as a pastor in 2000 with an appointment to St. Ann Parish in Raynham.

He was reappointed Finance Officer again in 2006 and 2011 by Bishop Coleman who asked him in 2012 to assume the additional responsibility of being Moderator of the Curia, which necessitated that he leave the pastorate of St. Ann’s. “I know that was a sacrifice for him,” the Bishop said.

In his work as Moderator of the Curia, he oversees the overall operation of the diocese, coordinating the work of its many ministries, departments and offices (collectively termed the diocesan curia). Father McManus will continue to serve as Moderator of the Curia on a part-time basis until a new Bishop is named and sets up his own team. He will also be available for an appointment as pastor in the future.

“I would like to express my deep appreciation to Father McManus for his dedicated work on behalf of the Diocese and for the valuable assistance he has offered me, particularly during these past eleven years,” said Bishop Coleman.

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