Samantha Rohloff
April 7, 2022 // Diocese

Dead-end roads lead police officer to true path

Samantha Rohloff

“I was not raised in a particularly religious household,” said Keirsh Cochran, a native of Franklin, Indiana. But as a third-generation law enforcement officer, he was taught to maintain “a strong moral compass” from an early age. Cochran is preparing for his first Communion and confirmation this year at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Huntington during the Easter Vigil.

His route to the Catholic faith followed a winding trail. Around his high school years, he stumbled upon a variety of world religions, looking for answers that would lead him in the right direction. Channeling a passion for history and knowledge, he read the entire New Testament, large parts of the Quran and even some of the writings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha and founder of Buddhism. He also explored atheism.

One firm goal that Cochran did set for himself was the military life – it was his dream to join the Air Force. “I actually never made it in,” he explained. “I enlisted, and I was going through my final physical before shipping out to basic training. That’s when they caught the hearing loss.”

Provided by Keirsh Cochran
Keirsh Cochran stands beside Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades outside of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne on March 6 after the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. Many twists and turns led Cochran to the Catholic Church and he joyfully anticipates Easter Vigil, when he will enter into full communion at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Huntington.

This hereditary yet unexpected hearing problem prevented him from grasping one of his biggest aspirations, and he described the moment that his life’s plans were altered as “devastating.” But it was in this darkness that Cochran discovered Christianity as his light. In hindsight, he noted, “It was just God closing a door that sent me on the path that He wanted me on.”

After converting to Christianity, he and his future wife Christie met at a World Assemblies of God Fellowship church. He joined the Fort Wayne Police Department and became a church board member for First Assembly of God, which, he noted, is the state’s biggest Assemblies of God church. Even after all his searching and conversion, he still felt lost.

Cochran had sensed a pull to Catholicism while attending Huntington University as an undergraduate student. “As a relatively new Christian, I went to our campus pastor, and I said, ‘Hey, I think I need to be confirmed into the Catholic Church.’” This unfortunately fell by the wayside, but not for long.

After receiving the 2019 Young Alumnus Award from Huntington University at the age of 29, Cochran became Chief of Campus Police for his alma mater, making him “the youngest active Chief of Police in America,” he said.

Working in Huntington meant that he and his wife would need to look for a closer church community. As they searched, his desire to become Catholic resurfaced once more. He attended Mass, joined RCIA and kept advancing toward Catholicism in a step-by-step sequence. Before even beginning RCIA, he read the whole Catechism of the Catholic Church in anticipation.

Of the many elements that drew him to the faith, he described Church history as one of his favorites. He was fascinated by how Catholicism contains history dating further back than what his previous church would even recognize.

“I want to get as close to Christ as possible, and to do that, you kind of go to the trunk of the tree, which is the Catholic Church,” he said. By this, he acknowledged how Catholicism is the only chute of Christianity that has remained unchanged since its founding by Christ himself.

Cochran’s love for the Eucharist is another reason why he’s becoming Catholic. In fact, it is this particular sacrament he is most looking forward to receiving. “It feels like, at this point, the same way that it did when I was engaged and we were about this far out from the wedding,” he explained. “And I’m just ready to be married … I’m just so unbelievably ready for the Eucharist and that full communion that comes with it.”

His conversion to the Catholic faith was “a beautiful journey,” he said. The defining moment occurred only about a year and half ago. He reread Scott Hahn’s book, “Rome Sweet Home,” and was entranced with the “intellectual way that he approaches theology.”

He further recounted the time he was at the Easter Vigil Mass about a year ago in which he thought, “I want to take the Eucharist. I want to be a part of this rather than just being a fan in the stands or a witness. I want to be in the game. I want to be a part of this community.”

Once Catholic, Cochran plans on advancing another passion of his even further. By fostering a Biblical and prayerful lens at the forefront of his ministry, “Racial Justice,” he tours the nation, speaking to colleges, churches and other communities about “racial reconciliation and policing in America.” He is also currently in the process of acquiring his PhD in Criminal Justice Leadership.

He said, “As Christians, as Catholics, we are called to a life of justice and peace and reconciliation. And we politicize some of these issues that are really close to God’s heart.”

He is an advocate for criminal justice reform and publicly opposes racism in law enforcement. By maintaining this mission of his, he wants to “continue to show the love of Christ.”

As the day of his entrance into the Church draws near, he longs to complete his journey home, knowing that nothing can keep him from the love of God. “It feels like Easter can’t come soon enough,” he said.

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