ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The House of Mercy announced that they have scheduled the re-opening of the homeless shelter for November 1 after a fatal attack that took place there on August 7.

Shelter officials said that the delay in reopening will allow them to implement new safety upgrades and comprehensive training for staff members. They added that these changes will provide a safe place for those in need.

The Board of Directors also announced that the organization severed ties effective immediately between founder Sister Grace Miller and guest services coordinator, Sister Rita Lewis, due to “irreconcilable differences.”

“We are thankful to Sisters Grace and Rita for their service. Their commitment to the homeless in this community for decades has been unwavering,” said Chairman Ed Hourihan. “We wish them well and know they will continue to serve the needs of the poor.”

An independent law firm was brought in to investigate the events that led up to the stabbing that took the life of Michael Nairy and hospitalized another man.

Nathaniel Jeanpierre III was arrested after the fatal stabbing — and the House of Mercy was closed ever since.

News 8 spoke to Sister Grace Miller an hour before the announcement of her termination Friday. Sister Grace Miller said the place she found– closed since August 7th– needs to open immediately. 

“(The homeless are) on the streets. Last night we found a man sitting outside the House of Mercy. And it was cold last night,” she said.

Sister Rita Lewis, also let go from her position Friday, said the employees inside need to get their priorities straight. “The homeless on the street have more entitlement to be in that building– more so than the current director or any of the staff people,” said Lewis.

Volunteer Jacqueline Brooken has been working at the House for 29 years. She echoed Sister Lewis.  “How can the House of Mercy be opened for the staff, but not for the homeless that the House of Mercy is built for?”

County Legislator Mercedes Vasquez-Simmons says November 1st is just too long for those in need to wait. “It’s disappointing, it’s cold now. And I see people already– I mean– (the homeless) have tents throughout the City of Rochester,” said Simmons.

She said the service Sister Grace has given here all these years wasn’t just a job. “This is a calling. This is something that she started,” said Simmons.

Simmons says this isn’t the end for Grace Miller. But Sister Grace said for right now, for the sake of those homeless and hungry,— open. “The board should get it together,” she said.


The full statement released by the House of Mercy can be read below.