Barry James Hickey was born at Leonora in the West Australian Goldfields on April 16, 1936. He was educated by Presentation Sisters and Christian Brothers at Wiluna and Kalgoorlie before going to St Charles Seminary in Guildford in 1950. From 1955 to 1959 he studied at Urbaniana University in Rome, gaining his Licentiate of Sacred Theology. He was ordained priest in Rome on December 20, 1958.
On his return to Perth in 1959 he was Assistant Priest at St Brigid’s Parish, West Perth until 1965, and Administrator of Sacred Heart Parish, Highgate until 1968.
From 1968 to 1973 whilst Director of the Catholic Marriage Guidance Council, he studied social work at the University of Western Australia, culminating in a Master of Social Work. For the next 10 years he was at the heart of the Church’s social welfare apostolate in a variety of positions: Director of Centrecare 1973-83, Director of Catholic Immigration 76-83, Chairman WA Catholic Social Welfare Commission 78-82, State Chaplain to St Vincent de Paul Society 82-83, Episcopal Vicar for Social Welfare 82-83, and Chairman of the Australian Social Welfare Commission 83-85. This was a period of considerable growth in the Church’s social welfare work and featured innovative programs to increase access for people with physical and intellectual disabilities to the sacramental and social life of the Church.
On March 22, 1984 he was elected to the Diocese of Geraldton, and was ordained and installed Bishop of Geraldton on May 1. Features of his time in Geraldton were his involvement in the settlement of Vietnamese migrants, his efforts to improve the participation of Aboriginal people in the Church and in society, and the beginning of Western Australia's first Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Centre at Bluff Point.
On July 15, 1991 he was elected to the Archdiocese of Perth and was installed as Archbishop of Perth on August 27, 1991. He received the Pallium in Rome on June 29, 1992. Features of his time as Archbishop have been the re-opening of St Charles Seminary, the establishment of the Redemptoris Mater Missionary Seminary and a strong increase in priestly ordinations; establishment of the LifeLink funding organisation for the Church’s expanding charitable works including "Linda's House of Hope" for women wanting to escape from prostitution, "The Shopfront" - a drop in Centre, and "Daydawn" - an Aboriginal Advocacy Centre. He also invited a Catholic group to establish "Pregnancy Assistance" to support girls and women with pregnancy worries. He has sustained efforts to improve religious education in Catholic schools. In 2000 he began planning for the extensive conservation and completion of St Mary’s Cathedral.
His involvement in ACBC committees includes Social Welfare ’85-91; Seminaries 85-91; Migrants and Refugees 92-00; Chairman Australian Catholic Liturgy Commission 92-00; Central Commission 92--; Chairman Evangelisation and Missions 00-03; Chairman, Media 00-06; Chairman, Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders 06--; and Vice President ACBC 06--.
Pope John Paul II named him Relator Generalis for the Synod of Oceania in Rome on October 1, 1998. The State Government appointed him to the Homeless Persons’ Advisory Committee and to the WA Ethnic Affairs Advisory Committee. The Commonwealth appointed him to the Board of the Institute of Family Studies and as a Member of the Australian Citizenship Council.
The Coat of Arms consists of a shield upon an archiepiscopal cross (i.e. cross with two horizontal arms) surmounted by a green galero (hat) with 10 green fiocchi (tassels) suspended on each side. These are standard ecclesiastical heraldic devices indicating the coat of arms is that of an archbishop.
The charges (emblems) on the left half of the shield (as the observer faces it) represent the Archbishop's See (i.e. the Archdiocese of Perth):
The charges on the right half are personal to Archbishop Hickey:
Umbram Fugat Veritas (truth puts the shadows to flight) - words taken from Lauda Sion, a Eucharistic hymn composed by St Thomas Aquinas for the feast of Corpus Christi.