Sister Denise is a native of Chicago. She is a graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in English. She received a master’s degree in counseling from Saint Louis University. Prior to being elected to the General Council as vicar in 2001, Sister Denise served as director of the Mission Advancement office at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, which oversees development, marketing and communications.

She also serves as an ex-officio member of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Board of Trustees and on the Wabash River Riverscape board in Terre Haute.

Sister Denise entered the Sisters of Providence Sept. 12, 1963, from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Parish in Chicago. She professed perpetual vows Aug. 25, 1973.

She served as a teacher at Costa High School at Galesburg, Ill. (1968-1971); John F. Kennedy High School, St. Louis (1971-1973); assistant dean of residence (1974-1975) and dean of residence (1975-1979), Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College; director of Pilot House, Rosemont, Ill. (1979-1982); vice president of student affairs, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (1982-1989); and the Congregation’s formation director (1991-1996).

She is the daughter of the late John and Josephine Vlasak Wilkinson. She attended Queen of All Saints and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods elementary schools in Chicago and Marywood Academy in Evanston.