He was born in Chorzów on 18 January 1914 as the oldest son of Paweł and Anna, maiden name Cofałka. He completed primary and grammar school in his hometown and right after graduation applied to the Silesian Theological Seminary, but unfortunately was rejected due to a great number of candidates and studied at the Jagiellonian University in the Faculty of Law and Administration for a period of one year. In 1934, he began his studies in the seminary, where, as a seminary student was known for deep devotion and empathy.
He was ordained on 25 July 1939 in the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul by the bishop Stanisław Adamski. The ordination mass took place in the parish church of Saint Mary Magdalene in Chorzów Stary. In his ordination picture he wrote, “My Lord and my God!”
Since the 1st of September, after the holiday replacements in his parish, he began the vicar service in the Parish of St. Josef in Ruda Śląska. The sermons from that period show his deep relation with God as well as engagement with the spiritual formation of believers. During his visits to Polish families he soon recognized their situation, namely, that many of Polish husbands, fathers and sons were arrested, executed, or taken to a concentration camp, which drove him to provide material and spiritual support: he raised funds, married couples in Polish, provided religious education, consoled the dispirited, instilled hope, and delivered God’s word.
He was involved in student and scout activities connected with the underground organization. This formation was active in a few fields : investigative, informative, sanitary and charitable. His priority was to run the so called Social Security.
On 5 September, 1941 he was arrested by the Gestapo and detained in Mysłowice. Although humiliated during many questionings, he did not give up, but consoled his colleagues, prayed often, and asked God for forgiveness to the oppressors. In his letters to home, he very often asked for prayer, as it gave him the strength to survive. He had a breviary with him, and used strings to make a rosary. In June 1942, he was transported to the prison in Katowice, Mikołowska Street, where on 17 July, 1942 was sentenced to death. At this time he wrote a note in his breviary with the enscription, “Macha Johann zum Tode verurteilt den 17 VII 42”, as well as a prayer to Jesus Christ for love, in which he included the statement: “I give myself to You with my body and soul”.
The news about the death sentence imposed on the young priest moved not only his family, but the entire parish of Ruda. Priest Franz Wosnitza, the general vicar of Katowicediocese, pleaded for his life to be spared.
In the night preceding the execution, priest Jan confessed his sins to a priest and wrote a farewell letter to his family. He also read a breviary and put a note inside saying, “Priest Jan Macha executed on 2 XII 1942”. He remained calm till the end. The execution took place a quarter after midnight, thus it is dated on 3 XII 1942. He was beheaded by guillotine. The place of his burial is unknown, though it is highly probable that his body was burnt in the crematory at Auschwitz.
He left the memory of an eager priest who successfully linked his service with charity work in the name of love of God and Homeland. The beatification process commenced in 2013.
Prayer for obtaining graces through the intercession of the Servant of God
Almighty God, in a special way you united with the sacrifice of your Son Jesus Christ the priest John, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, performed works of mercy and gave his life for his neighbours. Through his intercession I humbly ask you to grant me the grace…. I make this prayer through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and rules, one in the Holy Trinity, God for ever and ever. Amen.