Tucked in the upper floor of the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum are countless Catholic relics collected from churches throughout Diocese of Winona — closets filled with colorful vestments, portraits of bishops and priests in the diocese, kneelers, golden tabernacles, countless statues of the Holy Family and the saints, a multitude of crucifixes that line the steps upstairs, and a towering confessional.continue at Winona Post
Father Paul Breza who founded the museum has been collecting these relics since he was 12 years old. Father Breza was born on the East End and his family belonged to the Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka. His uncle, who was the janitor at St. Stan’s while Father Breza was growing up, didn’t like to throw things away, he said. “He would call me and say, ‘They remodeled the church and there’s a piece of the pulpit that they’re going to throw away. Do you want it?’”
Father Breza’s uncle saved the pulpit for him. Over the years, a collection, which he stored in his parents’ basement, began to grow. When his parents moved into a nursing home, Father Breza began looking for a new home for the relics. In 1977, Father Breza purchased the museum. “The second floor was basically empty. I said, ‘Ah ha. I have a place to put the stuff my folks want out of the house,’” he said.