Monday, 12 April 2021 09:25

From Toowoomba to Kensington, from Downlands to the Chevalier Institute: Anne McAtomney

From Toowoomba to Kensington, from Downlands to the Chevalier Institute:  Anne McAtomney

From the recent MSC Magazine.


anne use CopyAnne grew up in Brisbane and was educated by the Dominicans at both primary and secondary school level. She studied at the University of Queensland following school and studied to become a teacher majoring in History and French. Anne taught for Education Qld, being initially appointed to a school on the Atherton Tableland. Early in her teaching career Anne applied for and was appointed for a year as an English language assistant in a French Lycee (high school) in the South of France.

Anne, and her husband John, started their family while teaching in far North Qld but had determined the need to be closer to extended family in South East QLD so made the move to Toowoomba in 1983. During 1984 John was appointed as a teaching staff member at Downlands College and this began what has been a long association for both Anne and John with Downlands.  

Anne, her husband and their family moved into the College in 1990 when John was appointed as a boarding Houseparent. During the early 1990s Anne undertook relief/supply teaching at Downlands. By the mid-1990s Anne had been appointed as a full-time teaching staff member at the College and in 2000 she was appointed as a Year 11/12 Year Coordinator. Anne continued teaching and in her role as a senior Year Coordinator and was also appointed as Head of Department - Religious Education in 2009.

Fr John Mulrooney, College Principal 2006 – 2010, was appointed as Provincial of the MSC Order in Australia in 2010. Prior to concluding his role as Principal at Downlands Fr. Mulrooney had identified the need for a new role within the College Executive team focussing specifically on maintaining and enhancing the MSC charism within the College.  Anne was subsequently appointed as AP - Mission at Downlands in 2011, a role she undertook for the following ten years.

anne students

This photo was taken at Kensington Monastery with a group of student leaders from Downlands College.

Anne’s love of all things French, her affinity for the MSC as a religious congregation and their charism and spirituality, and the passion and zeal with which she has undertaken that AP – Mission role at Downlands has now led to her appointment as Director of the Chevalier Institute in 2021 by the current MSC Provincial, Fr Chris McPhee.

Anne has excelled in every role she has undertaken.  Stephen McIllhatton, past Principal at Downlands College summed up her time as Assistant Principal, Mission with the following words:

Dear Anne,

 Your departure from Downlands will have such a profound effect on so many past and present members of that Community. I say this because I would doubt anyone, over so many years, has done more to instill in us at the College the qualities of gentleness, justice and the finer attributes that make us human. Your role has evolved over the years from being a teacher and guiding light to so many students, to one of replicating those skills with adults and I for one, have never seen anyone to surpass you in that pursuit. I described you always as my ‘moral compass’- which you used to scoff at- but it was so true for many of us. Regularly when decisions had to be made, we would ask ourselves ‘what would Anne say?’. This fact alone is a marvelous testament to the influence you had on us all and we will all miss the flying pixie boots and billowing skirts hurtling around the grounds as you went about your day. You are regarded so highly because of your approachability, generosity, thoughtfulness and your distinct, clear understanding of the human condition. Fortunately, other communities will continue to experience these many innate characteristics in your new position as you keep the mission of the MSC alive and flourishing. It was an absolute joy working with someone that taught me so much.

Your friend,


Anne departs Downlands and Toowoomba to take up the position as Director, Chevalier Institute. The Chevalier Institute is based in Sydney within the MSC Monastery at Kensington, but her work will take her all over the eastern states of Australia, primarily to the four MSC Colleges, including Toowoomba. The role of the Chevalier Institute is to facilitate adult faith formation in Spirituality of the Heart and in that role Anne will work with staff in a small group capacity delivering a variety of programmes, she will facilitate retreats, deliver spirituality and retreat days to whole staff groups, conduct a pilgrimage and work with professed MSC in a variety of roles. She is eminently suited to this work and her appointment was received enthusiastically within the MSC world where she is known and respected.

anne issoudun

This photo was taken in Issoudun, France, the birthplace of the MSC while Anne was co-facilitating the Pilgrimage for Staff in MSC Colleges in 2019.