Ken Barker was a born in Murrumburrah, New South Wales in 1948 and grew up in Rye Park, a town of just 287 people near Harden in rural NSW. He attended the Christian Brothers, St Patrick’s College, Goulburn, NSW, finishing in 1965. After school he won a Commonwealth Scholarship to Sydney University where he finished two years of physics and maths studies for a science degree. That was when he realised that being a priest was his true vocation.
He received his training to become a priest from St Columba's College, Springwood, NSW and St Patrick's College, Manly. He finished a degree in theology, graduating with honours. He then returned to the University of Sydney and finished his science degree.
He was ordained in 1974 by Archbishop Thomas Vincent Cahill and for the next two years was assistant parish priest in Cootamundra, NSW.
In 1976 he was sent to the US to study at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he obtained a Ph.D. in religious education. He travelled to various communities in the US and experienced the charismatic renewal of Catholic life. He realised then that this was the way he wanted to be involved with the Church and with God.
Back in Australia in 1980, the charismatic renewal movement was also emerging. Appointed assistant priest to the Cathedral in Canberra and Diocesan Youth Minister, Fr Ken also became a member of the Disciples of Jesus Covenant Community. In 1985 three young men from the Disciples of Jesus Community approached him independently and said they wanted to become priests. Fr Ken, along with the three young men, prayed on this matter for more than a year and it gradually became clear the Lord wanted him to form a Brotherhood to evangelise young people and live a life of poverty as Jesus had, and help the poor.
The Brotherhood would have a special love for the Virgin Mary and be dedicated to the heart of Christ. Discussing this with Archbishop Francis Carroll of Canberra and Goulburn, it was eventually decided Fr Ken would leave his position as assistant priest at the Cathedral and form what was seen as a modified youth ministry and form of diocese priesthood which would be the equivalent of a congregation.
The Missionaries of God's Love (MGL) came into being in 1986 with a base in a suburban house in Canberra. 20 years later, the MGL has more than 40 members, 13 ordained priests, two deacons, 16 at its seminary in Melbourne which is overseen by Fr Chris Ryan.
He is the author of 5 books His Name is Mercy, Becoming Fire, Radical Way of Love, Amazing Love, and the best-selling Young Men Rise Up.