Documentary 'That All May Be One' tells story of CSJ legacy


Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet gave filmmaker Karen Kearns the red carpet treatment at the screening of the CSJ documentary "That All May Be One" at the Tivoli Theater in St. Louis on July 23.


When Karen Kearns took a trip from her home California to her native St. Louis to visit her cousin, Sister Joan Lampton, she never expected it would be the beginning of a journey—the production of her first film, “That All May Be One,” (TAMBO) a documentary about the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

During this visit in 2001, Kearns, the associate dean of Cal State’s University Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication, was inspired to chronicle the monumental renovation of the province motherhouse. As the production evolved, the renovation became the backdrop for the film’s ultimate purpose--to make visible the good work and enduring legacy of the CSJs.

TAMBO makes a connection to today’s sisters in province leadership and in our sponsored institutions that are living out the legacy of the congregation’s founding mothers. Interviews with province leadership,  sisters who served at St. Joseph’s Academy and St. Joseph’s Institute for the Deaf, as well as  sisters residing  of Nazareth living center, paint a picture of the vibrancy and spirit of the sisters and the community. “These women are charming, funny, and pragmatic and they continue to make tomorrow,” says Kearns. “I’m honored they allowed me to tell their story.”

While Kearns’ set out to share the sisters’ ministries, business acumen and hope-filled perspectives with her audience, she experienced some of her own revelations. “I was amazed at how current the sisters are,” Kearns says. “They are tied into all aspects of daily life, the community and the world.”

Kearns also learned the value of patience during the six year process of completing the film. “For many years, it felt like the dark days of the soul. But you can’t push the river. Sometimes you just have to step back.”

In the end, the timing was impeccable. Kearns entered TAMBO in the 2008 St. Louis Filmmakers Festival held in July. The film received recognition, in part due to the overwhelming CSJ community’s presence at the screening.  As a result, TAMBO is played at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November.  

Although Kearns never set out to be a documentary filmmaker, her talent to bring her experience and vision of who the Sisters of Joseph are today is profound.  “There was something about being together with a bunch of people pulling in the same direction,” says Kearns.  “’That All May Be One’ –it’s not only a great title –it’s the way they live, too.”

For more information about TAMBO, visit

To purchase a copy of the film on Amazon, click here.

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