William Hart McNichols was born to Stephen and Marjory Hart McNichols at St. Joseph's Hospital in Denver, Colorado. He has been "drawing and coloring in his room" since he was five years old.
On September 1, 1968 he entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and completed his philosophy and theology studies at St. Louis University, Boston College, Boston University, and Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest by Archbishop James Casey in Denver on May 25, 1979. In 1983 he received a Master of Fine Arts in landscape painting from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
From 1983 to 1990 he illustrated a number of children's books for Paulist Press, and others while working with the wonderful AIDS Hospice team of St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan.
A painter and renowned iconographer (creator of Christian iconic images), in September of 1990 he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to study the technique, history, and spirituality of icon painting (technically "writing") with the Russian-American master, Robert Lentz. While at the same time assisting with sacramental ministry in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. In 1993, the Archbishop of Denver commissioned him to create an icon to give Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day.
In 1996 the Boston College Jesuit community invited Fr. McNichols back to the east, where he completed five icons for two chapels in St. Mary's Hall. In 1997 he was in New York City and the West Side Jesuit Community where he continued his work with icons, and the healing ministry.
Returning to New Mexico in 1999 at the request of Fr. Tim Martinez of the San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos de Taos for a commissioned icon of St. Francis. The icon now resides above the doors inside the entrance to the church. Fr. McNichols is now living in Talpa, New Mexico, where he continues his work with icons and assists Fr. Martinez at the San Francisco de Asis Church.
He came out nationally in an interview with Time magazine in May 2002. McNichols said fellow priests warned him not to reveal his sexual orientation. "I consulted the provincial at the time. He said, 'Well, it will make you apostolically unavailable,' which means no school or parish will want you."
But McNichols - and his icons - remain in demand. Though it's been difficult at times to be "out," McNichols said, "in a lot of ways, it's been a blessing, because I haven't had to be repressed."