Fr. Vincent Busch: A Ministry That Betters The Lives Of Tribal Women

February 15, 2010

Columban Father Vincent Busch had worked with poor communities on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines for 25 years when he was inspired to develop a livelihood project to help women of the Subanen tribe.  Through his association with the Subanen people, Fr. Busch witnessed their impoverished living conditions, poor diet, and inadequate access to educational and health services.  Their lives were harsh especially for the women and the children.

Fr. Vincent Busch and the Subanen Craft Project participants proudly displaying their handiwork in the Philippines.

At the same time he also witnessed their outstanding crafting skills especially their beadwork and woven baskets.

In 2001, Fr. Busch developed the Subanen Crafts Project to honor these women’s extraordinary crafting skills.   Through this project they produce beaded Creation Mandalas, which are similar to dream catchers created by American Indians. These beautiful, handcrafted Mandalas celebrate the Earth and the story of Creation.

The “Creation Mandalas” these women create bind together eight individual beaded images depicting important events in the story of creation.  Each Creation Mandala is accompanied by an illustrated booklet explaining the symbols and the relevance to the Subanen people. The women and Fr. Busch have expanded the program to include handcrafted jewelry, and Creation and Christmas cards. Through the Subanen Crafts Project, Subanen women have enhanced their living conditions and self-confidence while continuing their education and providing additional income for their families.

The life and ministry of Fr. Busch, a native of Western New York, has long been characterized by his creative skills.  Fr. Busch was ordained in 1974 and appointed to the Philippines in 1975 and since that time he has lived and worked on the island of Mindanao.  Beginning in 1984, he produced numerous award-winning videos that focused on Columban Mission in Asia.  In addition to his prolific film work, Fr. Busch has published several books on ecology.

In September 2006, Father Busch appealed to Columban benefactors for donations to help furnish an office, dormitory and workshop for the Subanen crafters to further develop their crafting skills.  As the Subanen Craft Project continues, a better future for the Subanen tribe shines just as brightly as the Creation Mandalas and Creation cards that finance it.  If you are interested in purchasing Creation Mandalas, Creation jewelry, or Creation and Christmas cards crafted by Subanen women, e-mail Fr. Busch at subanencrafts@yahoo.com and he will help you order them.

To learn more about Fr. Busch, watch our award-winning “Voices of the Earth” video.