Betharram Fathers is the popular name for the Prêtres du Sacre-Coeur de Jesus (PSCJ), founded 1832 at Bétharram in the Department of Basses Pyrénées in southwestern France, near Lourdes, by St. Michael gari coÏts. Members who are clerics or brothers follow the rule of St. Augustine, taking three simple vows. Under the leadership of Father Auguste Etchécopar (1830–97), third superior general, the institute received papal approbation on Sept. 5, 1877.
During the founder's lifetime the congregation spread into South America, to Buenos Aires (1856) and Montevideo (1861). Until the 20th century, growth was slow. The persecutions of 1903, which forced religious from France, resulted in the congregation embracing an international presence.
By the end of the 20th century, the congregation had communities in Europe (France, Italy, Great Britain, and Spain), Latin America (Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay), Africa (the Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic), the Middle East (in the Holy Land) and Asia (Thailand and India). In 1989, associations of laity were established, enabling lay associates to collaborate with the professed religious. In addition to the congregation's traditional ministries of foreign missionary work, schools and colleges, chaplaincies and parishes, the congregation now operate centers for immigrants, refugees, and AIDS victims, and engage in youth ministries, pastoral ministry, retreats, and spiritual direction.
Bibliography: f. veuillot, Les Prêtres du Sacré-Coeur de Bétharram (Paris 1942).