From Prodigal to Priest

A Journey Home to Family, Faith, and the Father's Embrace

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Pub Date 24 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 06 Apr 2023


Goyo Hidalgo’s struggle with excess, pain, and fear plagued him for ten years. The gritty story of his unexpected redemption started after a hard night of partying in Los Angeles and a life-changing message coming from his television.

He woke up that April morning to the broadcast of Pope John Paul II’s funeral Mass. A reflection on the now-saint’s message of “Be not afraid” awakened a deep longing in Hidalgo’s soul—a yearning that led him back to the Catholic faith of his youth and ultimately into the priesthood.

From Prodigal to Priest takes you on Hidalgo’s journey of reconciliation with his faith and his family. He offers compassionate encouragement to those who believe themselves unforgivable and reminds them that Jesus is always there to welcome them home to the Church. Hidalgo’s conversion story affirms the power of God’s mercy and the deep transformation his grace can bring.

Hidalgo grew up in a devout Catholic family in a small town in Spain. He went to a minor seminary as a youth to begin studies to become a priest, but left after about five years. Once he went to college, he fell away from the faith—and repeatedly lied to his mother about it. Hidalgo’s dream was to travel the world and teach, leaving poverty behind.

With Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) as a companion, you will walk with Hidalgo through both the joy and the difficulties he experienced as he came home to the Catholic faith of his childhood—confessing to his mother, relearning how to pray, going to Confession, telling his friends about his reversion, and his call to the priesthood. And you will learn that it’s important to pray, discern, trust, and be thankful to God, regardless of the outcome.

Each chapter includes prayers for both prodigal sons and daughters and those who accompany them.

Goyo Hidalgo’s struggle with excess, pain, and fear plagued him for ten years. The gritty story of his unexpected redemption started after a hard night of partying in Los Angeles and a life-changing...

A Note From the Publisher

Fr. Goyo Hidalgo is a priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, a singer-songwriter, and a social media evangelist.

A native of La Villa de Don Fadrique, a small town near Toledo, Spain, he attended minor seminary as a youth to become a priest, but left after six years. He earned master’s degrees in English and Spanish linguistics from Complutense University of Madrid in 1996, after which he traveled to other countries to teach Spanish and English. He eventually became a middle and high school teacher in the Los Angeles, California, area and released two albums of Catholic music in Spanish and English.

Hidalgo underwent a radical reversion to the faith of his youth after watching the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005 and hearing his famous words: “Do not be afraid.”

Hidalgo earned a master of divinity degree from St. John’s seminary in Camarillo, California, and was ordained to the priesthood in 2016.

Fr. Goyo Hidalgo is a priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, a singer-songwriter, and a social media evangelist.

A native of La Villa de Don Fadrique, a small town near Toledo, Spain, he...

Advance Praise

“A great story with a powerful lesson: Sin does not get the last word in anyone’s life.”
Archbishop José H. Gomez
Archdiocese of Los Angeles

“I am so grateful for this book as I know it will cause you to know, love, and serve the heart of our loving and merciful Lord. Read this book, pray with it, and then share it. It will change lives!”
Fr. Rob Galea
Singer-songwriter, speaker, and author of Breakthrough

“Discover God’s fatherly love and patience—and the power of a loving mother’s prayers—from Fr. Goyo Hidalgo's honest, joyful and humorous account. Highly recommended.”
Scott Hahn
Catholic theologian

“This book, simply yet powerfully written, will prove helpful to anyone who feels lost, anyone who knows that there is more to life than wealth and pleasure, anyone who is sincerely seeking God. You will be drawn in by Fr. Hidalgo’s personal story, and through it you will learn some of the most important principles of the spiritual life.”
Bishop Robert Barron
Diocese of Winona–Rochester

“A great story with a powerful lesson: Sin does not get the last word in anyone’s life.”
Archbishop José H. Gomez
Archdiocese of Los Angeles

“I am so grateful for this book as I know it will cause you...

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ISBN 9781646802128
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Featured Reviews

A conversion of the heart is such a sacred experience. It demonstrates the power of the Lord to reach into a person's inner being and transform the individual into a new creation. I am fascinated by conversion stories--both from the standpoint of the human person and from the vantage point of the Lord.

As a result, I eagerly embraced the new book From Prodigal to Priest: A Journey Home to Family, Faith, and the Father's Embrace. Father Goyo Hidalgo paints an intimate portrait of his journey to a closer relationship with Christ. I found myself on the verge of tears as the winsome priest offered his testimony.

While our conversions may not be as dramatic as Father Hidalgo's, they are nonetheless critical in our walk with the Lord. In reading From Prodigal to Priest, we are reminded of the expansive nature of God's love and how the Father never gives up on us, even when we have lost our spiritual way.

Father Hidalgo's story captures the essence of grace and why it is so necessary in our lives. Read this book and you will be introduced to a tender Father who is always looking out for His children.

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This was a really fast read for me, although I know there are passages I'll go back to reread. The way the book was set up was very clever - each chapter retells a part of the story of the Prodigal Son and connects it to Fr. Hidalgo's life, ending with a prayer. I first came upon Fr. Hidalgo on Instagram and was interested in his way of bringing God to others. This book tells about his conversion and gives insight into how difficult that journey can be. Personally, I would like to have read more details about his former and current life. I live in California (as does he) and am always interested in making connections between what I'm familiar with and what I'm reading. I understand why he might not want to share those details, but I think it would add to the story. This book is a good choice for people who are interested in how one becomes a priest - at least in the United States - and for anyone who feels like a Prodigal Son. Many thanks to Fr. Hidalgo, Ave Maria Press, and NetGalley for the ARC of this title

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Thank you to NetGalley and Ave Maria Press for the opportunity to read an advanced reader's copy of this book for an honest review. (Publish Date: 24 Feb 2023)

“From Prodigal to Priest: A Journey Home to Family, Faith, and the Father's Embrace” by Fr. Goyo Hidalgo was so unexpectedly candid about real struggles from a man who drifted away from his strong Catholic faith and eventually turned his life around and became a priest.

Hidalgo doesn’t hold back in this story of his journey back to the faith. After leaving his devout, Catholic family in Spain to attend college in California and teach, Hidalgo fell away from his faith as he began a new lifestyle of regular drinking and partying with non-Christian friends.

For ten years, Hidalgo was living a life he had always dreamed of, but he felt like he was living a lie. He thought he couldn’t return to his faith after everything he had done, but the broadcast of Pope John Paul II’s funeral Mass shook him to the core and awoken his yearning to re-establish a relationship with God. He faced many struggles and setbacks, and even had to relearn how to pray, but Hidalgo learned to trust God to the fullest and, ultimately, devoted his life to Him when he went to seminary to become a priest.

Overall, I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with their faith. Hidalgo offers guidance from his real-life struggles that are very relatable and encouraging. Ultimately, everyone makes mistakes but, like the prodigal son's story, our Father in Heaven is always waiting to welcome them back with open arms.

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I have followed Fr. Goyo Hidalgo on social media for many years. He is such a compassionate and funny priest. I was so excited to learn he had written his story and even more excited when I was approved for this ARC.

Fr. Goyo was raised in a devout Catholic family. As an adult he grew away from the faith and was living a life he knew wasn’t good. It was Pope John Paul II’s funeral and a message on the television that started Fr. Goyo on the path back to his faith and eventually the priesthood. I vividly remember watching the funeral. Little did I know not was planting seeds of its own in my own story.

I loved everything about this story. Fr. Goyo does not sugarcoat anything. He is brutally honest about his struggles, even after the start of his return to the faith. I believe this is something we can all relate to in one for or another. Being Catholic today is challenging and a journey full of ups and downs. The inclusion of the story of the Prodigal Son serves as a constant reminder through this story of how the Lord is always waiting for us, we can never do anything that would make Him love us less. We often have to make the first and hardest step, admitting we are wrong and turning to the Lord. Fr. Goyo illustrates this point beautifully in his own struggles to return to the sacrament of confession. To read about someone who is now a priest being nervous about this touched my heart.

Following Fr. Goyo on his journey to seminary and then the priesthood was touching and heartwarming. It was the last place he expected to be and yet when he realized it was his calling, nothing stopped him.

I cannot wait to purchase a copy of this book. Fr. Goyo’s story shed light on aspects of my own walk with the Lord that I would like to do better. His humor, heart, and way of telling a story is sure to bless anyone who reads this book. Thank you, Father, for tell your story.

Thank you to Ave Maria Press for the copy of this book. All views are my honest opinion.

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If you have ever wanted to peek inside the heart of the Prodigal Son and see where his journey ultimately led him, you might want to pick up of a copy of From Prodigal to Priest by Fr. Goyo Hidalgo. In this very accessible book, Fr. Hidalgo shares his story of conversion from being a devout Catholic son to living a prodigal lifestyle (think the son wayward son in Luke 15) to being a faithful Catholic priest.

This book was a very enjoyable read because while Fr. Hidalgo made clear that he was living the lifestyle of a "prodigal son" he did not find it necessary to go into all the gory details of his sinful life. It was enough to be clear that he had strayed far from his youthful desire to become a priest. I also found it very beautiful to see his relationship with his earthly mother which has a very clear connection with each Catholic's relationship with Mother Mary. As you will see, whenever Fr. Hidalgo did not know where to turn in the midst of his sinful and wayward lifestyle, he always knew that he could turn to his mother who would lead him back to Jesus and His Church.

I think one of the strongest values of this book is that it can be read by anyone. It is a book that is very accessible to those who are going through a "prodigal moment" or those who have always lived the Catholic life because of Fr. Hidalgo's very humble attitude about his own life and the way he would make stops and starts toward conversion. Who among us cannot relate to that?

Additionally, the second part of each chapter speaks directly to the reader with some advice for how to improve your own spiritual life. This advice comes from a loving, fatherly heart and it is clear that this advice has come from a hard-fought battle with learning these lessons that hard way. The chapters fittingly conclude with a heart-felt and original "Prayer of a Prodigal."

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is seeking to deepen their prayer life and/or relationship with God and His Church. It is beautiful that the advice comes from one who almost lost it all and fought hard to win back the ultimate prize.

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