Sister Denise was born Philomena Lynch in Baillieston, Glasgow, Scotland in 1932. She attended West of Scotland Commercial College, obtained an advanced certificate in elocution in London, and worked as a secretary in a solicitor’s office before joining the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1951. Her sister Patricia is also an MMM.
After profession she did nurse training in the IMTH. In 1956 she was assigned to Nigeria, where she served for three years as a secretary in Ikom. Back in Ireland, she worked in administration in the IMTH for five years and completed a diploma in social studies. Returning to Nigeria in 1965, she was a secretary in the Apostolic delegation in Lagos for three years.
After completing a BA Degree, Denise was assigned to Tanzania in 1974 and was a secretary in MMM hospitals in Makiungu and Kabanga. She returned to Ireland in 1978 and was medical administrator in the IMTH for five years. She was then medical administrator of Saint Mary’s Hospital in Eleta, Ibadan, Nigeria for two years.
Sister Denise returned to Ireland in 1988 and was pastoral co-ordinator and parish Sister in Booterstown, Dublin. She returned to Tanzania at the end of 1994 and was AIDS task force co-ordinator in the Diocese of Arusha for seven years. With her staff, she ran an efficient and compassionate programme for people living with HIV and their families.
She returned to the MMM Motherhouse in 2002, where she helped part time in the library, and with graphics and making cards. These were very popular within and outside MMM. She made inspirational posters with quotations from the great mystics and religious writers. These were put up in many areas of the house. When a Sister died, Denise made photographic displays that told the story of the Sister’s life, including highlights of her missionary life at home and abroad. Families and Sisters greatly appreciated these displays.
As a child, Denise was a professional Irish dancer and she retained her beautiful posture to the end of her life. She was gracious and elegant, even in the midst of much suffering.
She moved to the nursing facility, Áras Mhuire, in December 2015 for care during a serious illness. She accepted this illness with great serenity and died peacefully on 24 January 2016.