Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Deacon Paul Koester on Board as New Business Manager at Bishop McDevitt High School

Deacon Paul KoesterDeacon Paul Koester, of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Hershey, has joined the staff of Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, taking on the position of Business Manager.

In his role, Deacon Koester takes on a broad range of accounting and operational duties, including preparation of financial statements, advising on all fiscal matters and handling tuition billing, accounting for donations, and tax-related statements.

Operationally, in conjunction with principal Vince Harper, Deacon Koester oversees student registration, works with parents as they interface with school information systems, and serves as the liaison with service and maintenance vendors.

Deacon Koester’s hiring came on the heels of the retirement of Mary Lou Kaufman, who served as Business Manager of Bishop McDevitt High School for 34 years. In seeking to fill the position during a search last fall, the hiring process and interviews were conducted by the high school and the Diocese of Harrisburg, with assistance from McKonly & Asbury.

“When we first met [Deacon Koester], we were excited to know that he is a deacon in the Church and were impressed that his resumé has some very extensive qualifications. Putting those two things together created a perfect recipe for making an impact on the mission of our school,” Principal Harper said.

“It is a big job, and he’s taking over for someone who had been in the position for 34 years, but he’s already given us a real assessment about processes and looking at ways that we continue in the right direction.”

Growing up in Montana, Deacon Koester was employed with the U.S. government, serving both in military uniform and in civilian service, for over 35 years. He has a plethora of experience as a comptroller, budget officer and auditor. He was ordained a deacon in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., in 2017.

It was during an assignment when he was stationed with the U.S. Air Force at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland in 2020 that Deacon Koester’s service took a different path, after seeking God’s guidance.

“At that time, I was working on a weapons system, and, as a deacon, I found that to be incompatible with my calling. I asked God to help me with that situation. By His grace, my position was defunded,” he told The Witness.

He saw the elimination of his position as an opportunity to move to Pennsylvania, since his wife, Janet, a native of the Keystone State, was wanting to live closer to her mother. They relocated to the Harrisburg area, and he accepted an auditor’s position with the Navy in Mechanicsburg – a three-year contract that ended in September 2023.

With his most recent assignment coming to a close, Deacon Koester was offered a position with the Office of the Inspector General, but, as it would have required him to be in the nation’s capital several days a week, he declined, not wanting to move his family again.

A search for a new, civilian position didn’t take long, as Deacon Koester saw the job opening for the Business Manager position at Bishop McDevitt. He came aboard in mid-December and worked with Kauffman for two weeks before her retirement.

“One of the things I first talked to Vince [Harper] about when we sat down was, I normally observe things for 30 days when I step into a new position, to understand the culture and take a look at the whole picture,” Deacon Koester said. “I have implemented a few changes so far, with the goal of streamlining and what we can put into place to strategically look to the future.”

“One of our biggest focuses is on donors. We can never charge enough tuition to cover all the debt; we need alumni, we need donations, we need other funds coming in. The goal is to cultivate that relationship with donors. I want to calm anybody’s concerns about whether they should give money to the school and where their money is going. We are going to ensure that all money is used correctly, and not wasted. Our focus is on the students and their education and experience here.”

Funding for future use, streamlining processes and examining maintenance contracts are also among top priorities for a facility that is now 12 years old.

“We’ve been here for 12 years; we have to consider what our next 12 years and beyond will look like. We must consider long-term goals and look at stewardship,” Deacon Koester said. “It’s about securing ourselves for the future. We want our community to understand that there is a new support structure here in place to help Mr. Harper manage the school effectively,” he said.

“I’m really glad and blessed to be here at Bishop McDevitt. I knew I had to transition from government service in my life several years ago; I just didn’t know what it was. God brought me to the Harrisburg area for a reason,” he said. “God doesn’t always tell you why He’s changing something in your life, but there is a reason; you just have to be attentive to that voice and trust in His wisdom.”

(Photo by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

- Advertisement -spot_img

Submission Deadline

The deadline for submissions to the biweekly Notebook/Parish Obituaries listing is every other Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Please refer to the Publication Schedule for edition dates and deadlines.

Other News