Franco Paul Juricic of Highland Park may have lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on March 6, 2019, but won a great eternal victory for the resilience, spirituality, and dignity of human kind. He not only was a beloved husband and father, but also a beloved citizen in his community and advocate for helping others with pancreatic cancer by raising awareness about the need for dedicating resources to finding a cure.
In his honor, the Sunday, May 5, 2019, Highland Park 5k race, is being dedicated to his memory by mobilizing runners and the entire town to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN).
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a nationwide network of people dedicated to working together to advance research, support patients and create hope for those affected by pancreatic cancer. The entrance fee for the 5k race as in the past goes to support a variety of community organizations, but the generous runners and community members have stepped up with extra funds for the PCAN. Those who would like to make a contribution, please go to: https://www.facebook.com/donate/557382658081065/?fundraiser_siyrce=external_url
Below is the formal obituary with information about how to make a donation.
It is with great sadness that the family of Franco Paul Juricic announces that he has passed away after a 2nd battle with pancreatic cancer. Franco entered the nearer presence of God on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at the age of the 52. Franco will be forever loved and remembered by his wife and best friend Jacquelyn, and their two children, Ana and Noah, his mother Maria and brother, Edi. Franco will also be forever remembered by his cousins, niece and nephew, extended family and dear friends.
In the fall of 2008 Franco was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Although a relatively rare cancer, there was only a six percent, five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer at the time Franco was first diagnosed. Franco underwent a successful surgery to remove the cancer, and always considered himself blessed to have caught the disease early at a stage, where surgery was an option. Very sadly, Franco lost his beloved father Bruno to pancreatic cancer four years later. Franco became active in the North Jersey chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan), dedicating his life to advocacy and bringing attention and awareness to this lethal cancer. As part of his advocacy Franco led committees and efforts focused on bringing pancreatic cancer education to the public and healthcare professionals, directing advocacy efforts and fostering caregiver and survivor engagement. Franco said, “It gave me purpose and perspective on life. It has become one of the best things to ever happen to me. I wake up ever day, and I feel most blessed. I would not trade places with anybody.”
Franco’s calling to give back to others eventually led him to a career in the ministry, and he graduated from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, with a Master of Divinity, in 2017. After a 25-year career, Franco retired from Merck in 2018 to devote himself full-time to pastoral care, at one point spending time as the chaplain at Robert Wood Johnson, the same hospital where he underwent his 2008 surgery and chemotherapy treatment. Most recently, Franco was serving as pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, and as president of the Classis of New Brunswick, Reformed Church in America, where he was fed with the Spirit and led his church family with grace and thanksgiving in his heart.
Franco got a purple tattoo of the words “Wage Hope” (PanCan’s logo), which was a sentiment that he whole-heartedly embodied. This recurrence of cancer was sudden and unexpected, but his family and friends remain dedicated to waging hope on behalf of Franco and all of those who have been affected by Pancreatic Cancer.
In his own words: an essay Franco wrote in January 2015, when he was in divinity school.
“I was born and raised in New York City. Over the years, as I became more and more involved in my church’s activities, I found I really enjoyed serving in the church. In the midst of working, taking care of my family and serving in my church, I received a diagnosis that no one expects or wants: pancreatic cancer. The one-year survival rate for this type of cancer is just 20%. For the next six months, I underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. After I finished my treatment, I felt like God called me into the locker room at half-time. His message to me? You had a good first half, but in the second half I want a little more from you. That was June 2009; I enrolled at New Brunswick Theological Seminary (NBTS) and started classes that fall. I wanted to prepare myself for whatever God was calling me to do.One of the things that attracted me to NBTS was the availability of evening classes for those of us who work full-time and can only attend Seminary part-time. I took a pastoral care class first since I was already involved in pastoral care activities at my church. My classes have not only given me a strong foundation for my relationship with God, but they also have given me confidence to take God’s message out to the world.
I’m transforming. I find that each class, each experience and each exposure to something new is an ingredient in a recipe for what God is calling me to be. After engineering school, I thought like an engineer. When I finished my MBA, I dissected everything from a business or marketing perspective. In the same way, with my theological education, I think about the church and how we relate to the brokenness in the world. There are people all around us who are struggling. What are we doing about it?
That’s what I love about NBTS. We are challenged to relate to that brokenness and to think about how to use our degrees and gifts to bring healing to the world. I sometimes reflect on my half-time pep talk with God. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is only 6%. I’m grateful He placed me in that number, and I will use everything I’m learning at NBTS to make a profound difference in the lives of others.”