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House of Mercy parts ways with founder Sister Grace Miller; plans to reopen November 1

The House of Mercy on Ormond Street in Rochester.
House of Mercy
The House of Mercy on Ormond Street in Rochester.

There are some big changes planned for the House of Mercy homeless shelter in Rochester. That facility has been closed since a fatal stabbing occurred there in early August.

On Friday, the House of Mercy board of directors announced that they are implementing a plan for leadership restructuring and they plan to reopen with a target date of November 1.

As part of that restructuring, the founder and current Spiritual Director of House of Mercy, Sister Grace Miller as well as Guest Services Coordinator Sister Rita Lewis will no longer be part of the organization.

The board of directors of the shelter hired an independent law firm to conduct a comprehensive investigation to assess what led up to the death of Michael Nairy on August 7. He was living at the shelter as was his alleged attacker 40-year-old Nathaniel Jeanpierre III.

The 68-year-old Nairy was allegedly attacked with a large knife and suffered multiple stab wounds. Another resident of the shelter, 20-year-old Cameron Schuler suffered serious but non-life threatening wounds.

Jeanpierre faces charges of 2nd degree murder and attempted murder in the 2nd degree.

The statement released Friday by the House of Mercy said that the remaining weeks that facility will be closed will enable comprehensive staff training and the completion of facility upgrades.

Tammy Butler, who was named Executive Director of the House of Mercy in March, taking over leadership from Sister Grace Miller, said that the board and the staff of the shelter are “fully committed to providing hope, healing, compassionate care, unconditional love and a sense of community” for the individuals who are getting housing at the shelter.

The statement from Butler also said that “the legacy of Sister Grace will endure through our inspired commitment to the poorest citizens of the city.

Ed Hourihan, Chairman of the Board of House of Mercy, acknowledged that the transition is difficult but thanked Miller and Lewis for their commitment to the community for decades.

While the House of Mercy, a 76-bed shelter has been closed, some of the residents there were relocated to the Open Door Mission in Rochester and Monroe County also has sought to find temporary space for those affected by the temporary closure of House of Mercy.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.