Fr. Carlos Orduna Díez was born Feb. 19, 1949, in a northeastern province of Spain. He met the Viatorians when his parents, both schoolteachers, settled in Madrid not far from where the Clerics of Saint Viator had just opened the Colegio de Nuestra Señora de Fátima. Fr. Carlos began his secondary education there before continuing it at Saint Viator Juniorate in Sopuerta and later in Eskoriatza, both in the Basque region of northern Spain.
Those early years were influential. He would eventually join the community that had educated him and devote his life’s work to the Foundation of the Ivory Coast, where he was elected Superior of the Foundation from 1986 to 1995 and from 2001 to 2012, or 20 years in leadership, and now serving as a member of the General Direction.
His journey began in 1965, when he entered the Viatorian novitiate in Valladolid and made his first profession in August. He earned his baccalaureate in 1967, and was sent to work at Viatorian institutions, from a home for orphans in Zaragoza, to the Juniorate in Eskoriatza and later to the San Viator School in Huesca, where he remained until 1970. While in Huesca, Fr. Carlos created a choir of about 50 children (“Los baturricos’) which he accompanied on the accordion. The choir won a Christmas carol contest in Madrid, which allowed him to perform on TV and record an album.
In 1969, Fr. Carlos volunteered to reinforce the Viatorian mission in Chile. This human, social, ecclesial and missionary experience of three years left a deep impression on him. When he returned to Spain, he began his preparation for the priesthood, and made his perpetual vows March 19, 1974 in Valladolid.
Fr. Carlos continued his academic studies at the Pontifical University of Comillas-Madrid, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in theology and a Master’s degree in philosophy. At the same time, he passed the exams up to the superior level of French language at the Official School of Languages of Madrid. Consequently, he was asked by his superiors to be a translator for the General Chapters from 1976 to 2018.
Fr. Carlos was ordained a priest May 12, 1979 in the chapel of St. Viator College in Madrid. The following day, on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, he celebrated his first Mass at his Viatorian College.
In 1979, Fr. Carlos responded to a request for personnel willing to support the Viatorian work in Ivory Coast. His offer was accepted and he was welcomed at the Collège Saint-Viateur in Bouaké, where he remained for 11 years as a pastoral animator, youth guide, teacher of Spanish, and human and religious formation, while also serving as chaplain to prisoners in the penal camp of Bouaké. In 1981, Fr. Thomas Langenfeld, Superior General, invited the Viatorians of the Ivory Coast to challenge young Christians with a goal of raising up a new generation of Ivorian Viatorians.
With the support of the other Viatorians of Bouaké and Ferké, this vocation ministry was launched and directed by Fr. Carlos, and it continues to this day. After seven years of intense work, the first young “compagnons” asked to become postulants. In 1987, the Bouaké novitiate was built and welcomed the first three novices in 1988. In 1990, the first Ivorian Viatorian religious made his temporary vows. After 11 years of constant work, Fr. Carlos Orduna left the college of Bouaké to accompany newly professed at the Scholasticate of Abidjan, inaugurated in September 1990. Ten years later he led the Viatorian team that created the Collège St-Viateur in Abidjan, where he was director from 2000 to 2013. He remains in Abidjan today as a teacher, pastoral agent and trainer, for a total of 42 years of permanent work in Ivory Coast.