Who was Jan Kaczkowski from Johnny?

Polish biopic drama, Johnny is based on the story of a reformed convict and late priest Jan Kaczkowski. A man of faith, he was also an empath of the highest order, devoting his later years to the terminally ill.

A Roman Catholic priest, a bioethicist, and a hospice director, Jan Adam Kaczkowski’s humanitarian efforts made him a household name in Poland, as he cared for the people others discarded or lost hope on.

Theology & empathy

Jan Kaczkowski studied theology and philosophy at the Gdańsk Theological Seminary, going on to secure a theology master’s degree and later getting a doctorate in theological sciences.

His dissertation dealt with the topic of the dignity of a dying person and helping the terminally ill, something he’d go on to devote his years to later on. The film heavily delves into this crucial part of the late priest’s life.

Along with his theological education, he’d go on to be ordained as a priest and later work as a vicar. Later still, he’d start teaching students as a Catechist and working as a chaplain for a nursing home, taking care of the terminally ill.

Taking his quest for helping the terminally ill further, he co-founded the St. Padre Pio Hospice and later became its director. There, he’d employ the help of troubled youth and convicts as volunteers, one of whom, Patryk Galewski, is portrayed in the Netflix film by Piotr Trojan.

Problems & perseverance

Father Jan Kaczkowski was born prematurely, 7 months into the pregnancy. This premature birth afflicted him with certain defects that will go on to become life-long problems for him.

He had severely poor eyesight and had paresis on the left side of his body. Constant limp and thick spectacles marked his demeanor as he went about his empathetic way of life with a great sense of humor to boot.

Father Jan Kaczkowski Johnny Netflix
Dawid Ogrodnik as Father Jan Kaczkowski in ‘Johnny’ (Image source: Next Film)

He’d also go on to suffer from Kidney cancer, of which he was eventually cured. However, Glioma would strike his brain next, and ultimately succumbed to the condition in 2016.


Father Jan Kaczkowski would leave behind a legacy of kindness, empathy, and compassion for not just the people on the deathbeds, but also the young ones who are troubled and need guidance.

For his work, he was bestowed many awards and accolades, including the King’s Cross by the President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, as well as honorary citizenship of Puck.

Most of all, however, he garnered love and respect from the masses, for even if his theological background may have informed his work, empathy, and compassion are truly secular and universal.

Also Read: Johnny review: Emotional drama defies its potential

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