By Violeta Rocha
Special to The Texas Catholic
FRISCO — When he returned from Vietnam in 1968, Carlos Liscano felt a strong calling urging him to help.
“I wanted to do something for my fellow man,” said Liscano, now a 70-year-old veteran.
“I felt and I still feel that every new day is a gift,” he added, trying to sum up in words almost 50 years of service for his parish and community.
The doors were wide open for Liscano at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, where he could serve a faithful community — something he has done for the last five decades. Liscano has been devoted to serving as a lector, Eucharistic Minister, catechist and director of spiritual retreats for the Spanish-speaking faithful. He has also been an exemplary father of five children, a mentor for at-risk Hispanic students and a dedicated grandfather determined to raise his eight grandchildren in the light of the Christian values.
Liscano’s legacy in the education field will be honored in the fall of 2017 when the Frisco Independent School District is scheduled to open Carlos Liscano Elementary School.
“Nothing belongs to us, we don’t belong to anyone and everything is for God,” said Liscano, whose primary inspiration was his mother, a devotee of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who learned to read and write thanks to the Bible.
Heroes & opportunities
Msgr. Larry Pichard, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, remembers how under the guidance of Refugia Liscano, Carlos and his family grew close to the Catholic faith.
Liscano built an altar in his house that shelters an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that belonged to his mother. Upon that altar, he and his wife Yolanda offer nightly prayers for the souls of his nine companions who lost their lives in Vietnam.
A native of Big Spring in West Texas, Liscano enlisted in the U.S. Army when he was 21 and served 12 months in Vietnam.
“Everything stays in your mind,” he said, remembering that night in 1967 when he had to carry his mortally wounded companions to a military helicopter. “I always pray for them, they are always in my prayers.”
Upon returning home, Liscano was awarded the Bronze Star for his engineering skills during combat.
He has never forsaken the need to pay tribute to those who served with him. That’s why in 1993 he joined Veterans of Foreign Wars to petition a public celebration of Memorial Day in Frisco.
His desire to help would also extend to the schools of Frisco. While working in a battery factory in the 1990s, Liscano assisted high school students needing to help provide for their families by allowing them to work part-time instead of dropping out of school.
“My father helped them understand that education is important in order to contribute to our society,” said Gilbert González, Liscano’s son.
Frisco High School Principal Rick Reedy asked Liscano for help, because of the veteran’s constant support of students facing financial difficulties.
One of those students is Noe López, who works today as an insurance adjuster in the Frisco and McKinney areas.
He said Liscano was “a great inspiration for me and many more.”
When he was 18, López’s father became ill so he had to start working to support his family. He had just won a collegiate scholarship to play baseball.
“I thought my education was over after graduating from high school,” he said. “Carlos gave me the opportunity to work in the factory the hours I could and that helped me a lot in my studies and to support my family. Most importantly, it helped me to get to where I am today.”
Of his namesake school, a humbled Liscano said the honor is only a result of what he was taught as a boy.
“My father always said to me that we are called to share what God has given to us, even if we don’t have much,” he said.
A relationship of faith
Since they began dating, the Liscanos have sought to witness the evolution and progress of their parish. Msgr. Pichard considers them “an inspiration for us all.”
During its early years, St. Francis of Assisi was a mission of St. Michael the Archangel, a parish in nearby McKinney.
By 1991, the Liscanos and 100 faithful were present during the dedication of the parish in a mobile home located on Third and Elm streets.
Alongside his wife, Liscano served as a catechist for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and is the founder of the Spanish branch of the Adoration, Community, Theology, Service Retreat.
Rocío Anderson, current director of ACTS for women in Spanish, called the Liscanos “a guide for the community” since the early years of the parish.
“They have showed us how to participate and help all those who belong here,” Anderson said.
At home, the Liscanos have also shown their children how to nurture faith.
“Seeing my parents serve our church has been beautiful,” said Valerie Esparza, their eldest daughter. “The grandchildren see their grandparents serve, just as we saw them, and that creates a domino effect that carries on through each generation.”
Among the great family of faithful, the years of service that the Liscanos have devoted to their parish are “a true legacy.”
Donna Dilley, who has been attending St. Francis of Assisi for 18 years, defined the Liscanos as “a testament to what every Catholic can aspire to be,” adding that they are “humble, sincere and really focused on Christ.”