Holiday in Rome, worship at St. Peter’s Basilica was experience of lifetime

The Pope enters St. Peter’s for Christmas Eve Mass, 2022. Experiencing Rome and the Vatican has been a lifelong dream for the Bruggemans.

Christmas has been an international experience for the Bruggeman family over four years. 

The Pelican Rapids area family has experienced a holiday in Eastern Europe, England, and in 2022—an evening with the Pope himself. 

Doug and Sue Bruggeman have traveled overseas to visit their son Ryan, whose basketball skills brought him to Europe. Ryan, a standout athlete in Pelican Rapids and Southwest State-Marshall, first launched his career for a Bosnia professional team, and then to Spain, and since last year, with the Derby Trailblazers in England. 

“Having our son Ryan playing basketball in Europe has opened up the opportunity for Sue and I to experience Christmas in three different European cities over the past few years,” said Doug Bruggeman, longtime educator, coach, and Dean of Students at Pelican Rapids High School. Sue is with the management staff at Park Region Co-op in Pelican Rapids.  

Three years ago, the family attended Christmas Mass in Mostar, Bosnia, at one of the four cathedrals in that nation. 

Last year, 2021, they found a small Catholic Church in London, as Ryan was in Derby, which is located about three hours north of the city of London. The family drove down and spent a week in London over the Christmas holiday. 

Visiting Rome, and St. Peter’s Basilica, Doug and Sue Bruggeman, and son Ryan—who has spent three years in Europe as a basketball professional.
Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, Doug, Sue, and Ryan Bruggeman.

This year, Ryan re-signed with the Derby Trailblazers for a second year. Instead of checking out the sights of England, they decided to travel to Rome for a week and “fulfill my dream of visiting the Eternal City,” said Doug.  A major highlight of the trip was attending Christmas Eve mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. 

The Derby Trailblazers run an academy that fosters the growth of basketball in England. The club was formed in 2000, and has been running teams for under age 18. 

Clubs like Derby sign American players like Ryan as professionals who both play professionally, and also train and inspire young players in the club.