Six years ago, Sister Anne Michelle Mudd, principal and head teacher at Saint Paul’s Grade School in Saint Paul in rural Grayson County, Ky., got her first driver’s license at age 60.
Why did she wait so long? “I never had a desire to drive,” she explains. “But two of my brothers – John and Leo – talked me into it. They said, ‘Sis, you need to learn how to drive. Mom lives only 13 miles from you, and if you learned to drive, you could visit her often.’ So I did.”
It proved to be another example of how Sister Anne Michelle always accomplishes something once she sets out to do it.
When she received her first calling to religious life while still in grade school, many were skeptical. She proved them wrong.
“When I set out to do something, I do it,” she says with pride.
When she took on the challenge of giving a talk on vocation life one vocation Sunday – something she had never done – she was given a standing ovation. “Again, when you tell me I can’t do something, you’re barking up the wrong tree!” She proclaimed.
Sister Anne Michelle’s life has been filled with challenges – challenges she has always accepted and then accomplished in her own unique style.
A native of rural Grayson County, Sister Anne Michelle was born near Peonia, the fourth oldest of 10 children of Dent and Evelyn Stith Mudd. Three brothers and two sisters are still living today along with her 87-year-old mother, whom she now visits regularly thanks to her ability to drive.
She attended Peonia public grade schools for eight years where the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph taught all of the classes.
Sister Anne Michelle received her calling to religious life early. “Sister Consolata Stallings was my third-grade teacher, and she would always talk to me about being a sister,” she recalls. “She was my teacher for the third, fourth, fifth and part of the sixth grade and she taught me music from the third to eighth grade.”
She wasn’t the only influence.
“Father James Wathen became our assistant and taught us religion our junior and senior years in high school,” says Sister Anne Michelle. “He was always on my coattails about going to the convent.”
Sister Anne Michelle attended Saint Paul High School, also in Grayson County. Following graduation she accomplished the dream she had carried with her since third grade – she came to Mount Saint Joseph and began her novitiate, perhaps to the surprise of some skeptics.
“I was told by every sister who ever taught me how dumb I was,” says Sister Anne Michelle. “I was told that I wouldn’t get an eighth-grade diploma, that I would walk up the aisle with a fake one.
“When I was in high school, I was told you probably won’t pass, but you can walk up the aisle with a fake diploma.
“And at Brescia College it was the same way. But I made the grade every time. And I love to tell it now. I fooled them all. Because when I set out to do something, I do it!”
Sister Anne Michelle says, “When I came here (Saint Paul’s) 10 years ago, Father Charles Fisher told me he wanted me to give the vocation talk on vocation Sunday. I told him I couldn’t do those things because I didn’t like to. I could talk all day long in my classroom, but not to an adult in a group. But he said I still had to do it.”