Annie Richmond is keenly aware of the unhoused population in St. Louis. She wanted to do something to help, and in turn, acknowledge their human dignity.
The 17-year-old member of Christ the King Parish in University City organized a collection to make Blessing Bags, filled with food, drinks and personal care items to give to others in need. Nearly 100 Blessing Bags were assembled and distributed to people in her parish to give to others.
The activity was one small way to acknowledge another person’s human dignity. “Some people have the mindset that if I don’t look at them (people who are homeless) then it’s not a problem,” Annie said. “But it affects the community — it affects all of us.”
Because of her efforts, Annie was nominated by her parish for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Model of Justice Award. She is among 27 teens from Catholic parishes and high schools in the archdiocese who will be honored with the award Sunday, Jan. 16, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. The awards ceremony is a highlight of the 46th annual Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice, which commemorates King’s birth and legacy. The Mass and awards ceremony is organized by the St. Charles Lwanga Center, the archdiocesan Office for Black Catholic Ministries.
King’s powerful voice during the Civil Rights movement is something most everyone knows and refers to, Annie said. “He was the face of the movement, and there were many people who stood behind him and with him,” she said, adding that it’s important to carry on his legacy, and there are many ways to get involved.
“We have access to so much information, and it’s important to educate yourself,” she said. “There’s no excuse to not read up, and get the word out on these issues.”
Annie has made social justice issues a part of her life in other ways, including as a member of Christ the King’s Social Justice Committee. With her urging, the committee created yard signs to promote a message against racism. She also organized “Final Fridays,” a series of peaceful neighborhood demonstrations for several months after the killing of George Floyd.
“We wanted to stand in solidarity with Black lives,” Annie said. “It was important to bring the message to our community, and that police violence shouldn’t be normalized.”
Annie is active as a junior at Rosati-Kain High School, where she is a member of the Diversity Club, which recently held a session on disability rights; and the Unity Lab, which has a goal to enhance racial equity at the all-girls archdiocesan high school. Parents are invited to attend separate sessions.
Other activities have included volunteer buddy camper in the Shepherding Sheep program for children with developmental disabilities, and with young adults at Camp Wartburg.
She’s currently interested in climate change, including issues such as sustainability and reducing carbon footprint. “I want to reduce as much as possible,” she said.
Annie’s involvement in different issues is motivated by her Catholic faith. “We say that the greatest is love,” she said. “We should be showing love and compassion for people, especially with marginalized communities. We need to be making sure people know about the love of God.”
>> Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice
The 46th annual Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice will be celebrated at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski will be the main celebrant. The Mass commemorates the birth and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Mass will be livestreamed at cathedralstl.org.
>> MLK Model of Justice honorees
Cody Goeke, All Saints Parish in St. Peters
Grace Kaiser, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Ferguson
Annabelle Richmond, Christ the King Parish in University City
Julia Boessen, Sacred Heart Parish in Troy
Dejan Weaver, St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist Parish in St. Louis
Madison Miles, Bishop DuBourg High School
Jadah Holly, Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School
Tayres Bluett, Chaminade College Preparatory School
Jeffery Morgan, Christian Brothers College High School
Caitlin Torralba, Cor Jesu Academy
Tyron Woodley Jr., De Smet Jesuit High School
Marissa Willen, Duchesne High School
CarlyRae Lewis, Incarnate Word Academy
Adalaide Laury, Nerinx Hall
Allison Roeder, Notre Dame High School
Julia Michalski, Rosati-Kain High School
Alina Kohout, St. Dominic High School
Chloe Thacker, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
Tyler Trueman, St. John Vianney High School
Jennifer Niehaus, St. Joseph’s Academy
Evan Hugge, St. Louis Priory
Ismael Karim, St. Louis University High
Antonio Villaneda, St. Mary’s High School
Elaina Groneck, Ursuline Academy
Samantha Loida, Valle Catholic High School
Emani Pulido, Villa Duchesne
Grace O’Grady, Visitation Academy