Reflecting on his years volunteering at the ALPLM, Brother Boniface Shellock describes the continued joy he finds in meeting and working with the guests, staff, and volunteers, especially his peers on the Tuesday morning shift. He has always enjoyed the company of others and appreciates any occasion to share and connect with family, friends, or even someone he is meeting for the first time, he said. He particularly relishes any chance to engage with people who have an interest in exchanging ideas about historic topics and readings.
Brother Boniface’s comfort and familiarity with many people started in his upbringing, as he was raised in a home with many siblings. Born in Allentown, Pa., he grew up in a large and close-knit family with his seven sisters. Brother Boniface says it was in these young and formative years that he discovered his interests in reading, learning, and educating others as well as his love of Lincoln. “I have always had a strong interest in reading and learning more. As a child I read everything that I was able to find about Lincoln and history in general,” he said.
When examining his life, Brother Boniface has focused most of his time pursuing his passions for education and ministry service. He is an active member of the Franciscan Brothers of The Holy Cross and a naturally gifted teacher. His initial experience in ministry involved an extended mission trip in Brazil for over two years. Upon his return to the United States, Brother Boniface attended the University of Illinois and received a degree in American history. This led to his first teaching position at a high school where he taught American and Illinois history for seven years.
After teaching history for a few years, Brother Boniface wanted to further his education and relocated to Milwaukee, where he attended Cardinal Stritch University and received a master’s degree in Special Education. He later sought additional advanced Special Education instruction at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Lund in Sweden. The completion of these studies was the start of his 41-year career in Special Education, 25 years as a teacher and 16 years managing a group home.
Upon his well-deserved retirement in 2014, Brother Boniface moved to Springfield. It did not take long for him to identify ways to get involved and support the community. He has served as a volunteer at the ALPLM since September 2014, and volunteers at St. John’s Hospital. His volunteer responsibilities at the hospital include assisting patients get to various areas within the medical complex and helping them leave their rooms when it is time for their discharge. Additionally, he is assigned to assist staff working in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“I have very much enjoyed my work at St. John’s and consider it a pleasure to help care for these needy newborn babies,” he said.
Though much different than his volunteer positions at St. John’s, his time at the ALPLM has been equally rewarding. Volunteering at the ALPLM allows him to connect with people from all over the world while teaching and sharing his love of history. “Volunteering at the ALPLM has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. Guiding students and museum visitors through the museum is a pleasure. I have been enlightened to learn how much our guests already know about Lincoln and this period of our nation’s history,” he said.
Brother Boniface is excited that the ALPLM has recently reopened its doors, and he is volunteering on the weekends until he is able to return to his normal Tuesday morning shift. He is hopeful that our agency’s guest numbers will increase and more will visit Springfield to explore the ALPLM and the rest of fascinating historic sites that this city has to offer.
Thank you, Brother Boniface, for your lifetime of service educating and blessing others and for extending your reach through sharing your knowledge and expertise at the ALPLM.