Born in 1920 in St. Paul, Kacmarcik won a scholarship to the Minneapolis School of Art, where his painting and typography courses had a lifelong influence on him.
Kacmarcik entered St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota in 1941. His mentor was an Austrian monk who inspired him to regard his artwork as an authentic ministry. When he left the monastery to serve in World War II, Kacmarcik was stationed in Western Europe, where he observed the magnificent cathedrals, monasteries, and museums.
He eventually studied further both at MCAD and in Paris, returning in 1950 to teach at St. John's. While there, he worked with the great Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer on the design of the landmark abbey church. He and Breuer became close friends, and Breuer designed a home and studio for Kacmarcik in St. Paul, refusing payment for the work.
Kacmarcik won over sixty national and international awards in book design and the graphic arts. He had a widespread influence in church design and communications after the liberalizations of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). His own collection of fine and rare book, manuscripts, fine art prints, and religious art objects—which he called Arca Atrium, "The Ark of the Arts"—was donated to St. John's as a scholarly resource.
MCAD awarded Kacmarcik an Alumni Achievement Award in 1999. He died in 2004.