Award Recipient Chooses to Honor Sister Mary Matthias Ward

A businessman honored by the Archdiocese of Louisville during its “Salute to Catholic School Alumni” on March 18 made a special point to credit an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph for helping him become a success.

Sister Mary Matthias Ward and John Asher

John S. Asher, primary spokesman and vice president for Racing Communications at Churchill Downs since 1997, was honored with the Community Service Award at the ceremony held at downtown Louisville’s Galt House. Upon receiving the award, Asher made sure to acknowledge the impact that Ursuline Sister Mary Matthias Ward, his grade school teacher at St. Paul School in Leitchfield, Ky., had on his life. Sister Mary Matthias was present for the ceremony.

“I taught John Asher in grades 6, 7 and 8,” Sister Mary Matthias said. “He was a student always wanting to excel, always willing to take suggestions. The school had no athletics so learning was important. We did a lot of creative things such as: science fairs, history fairs, spelling bees, math contests and acting out scripture,” she said. “I tried to make learning interesting and fun.  John didn’t have a ‘live in father’ so he was fathered by uncles and male cousins. He seemed to never suffer from that.”

The two have stayed in touch through reunions at St. Paul or deaths of loved ones. She learned how much Asher credited her for his education after he mentioned her during a speech he gave at a national convention.

“John is a hard worker, a brilliant young man, a lover of family and friends,” Sister Mary Matthias said. She now serves as director of Local Community Life at the Motherhouse in Maple Mount.

Asher serves on the board of television station WLKY-32’s “Spirit of Louisville Foundation,” which oversees the annual Bell Awards for community service. He also serves on the boards of Simmons College of Kentucky and GuardiaCare Services. He has received multiple honors through the years for volunteer service and leadership. He and his wife, Dee, have three daughters.


  1. Elizabeth Skaggs Clemons

    I really enjoyed reading about Sr. Mary Matthias and John Asher. I remember several years back there was an article about John in the Courier Journal. He at that time was thanking Sr Mary Matthias for his success.

  2. Wanda Clark Chino

    Congratulations Johnny. Every time we see you on TV at derby time I tell my kids, “He used to be our neighbor and we are cousins. ‘

  3. Juanita Board Bowers

    Sister Mary Matthias was also one of my teachers. She was a guiding influence in my life. I have wanted to let her know that but lost touch. This article is a blessing because now I can tell her what a wonderful teacher she was to me. May God Bless her and keep her. Thank you Sister Mary Matthias!!

  4. Trensa Findley

    Sister Mary Mathias never taught me, but is certainly unforgettable in my book, a real Class Act! She was Principal at the Elementary School across the street where I attended Grayson County Catholic High, then principal at St. Denis where my children attended. Hats off to Sister! Happy to see her receiving the Recognition she deserves for all her wonderful works. Kudos to Mr. Asher for linking her to his success.

  5. carol hill

    How special, to be honored by Sister Mary Mathias presents, A special Lady, Sister and friend.

  6. Cathy Lundergan

    What a wonderful woman! I am so pleased to have
    Known her. As the Principal of St. Denis School my
    Children had a wonderful role model to emulate.
    She was loved by all.

    Congratulations to you Sister.

    Cathy Lundergan

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