I had a similar problem. I put the CatalogManager.properties file in my war file under WEB-INF/classes, but it still wasn't found.
I fixed the problem by removing the resolver.jar from the jboss lib/endorsed directory. It seems this caused java (1.4 at least) to load it in the boot classpath so it doesn't see the classpath of your application.
When it's not in endorsed, my application (a web service) works fine.
I don't see why resolver.jar should be in endorsed anyway, since it is not included in the standard jdk, at least not in 1.4.
Does anyone know the reason for this??