155 years have passed since St. Gregor above Sodražica gave birth to dr. Janez Evangelist Krek (1865–1917), one of the central figures among Slovenes in the last years of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. He was a long-term professor of Ljubljana theology, an important politician of the Catholic National Party (later called the Slovenian People's Party, SLS) and a member of the provincial and national assemblies.
In his work as a priest, he also encountered the problems of the peasant population and other socially disadvantaged classes. Krek and his colleagues began to establish various cooperatives, especially savings and loan banks. These were smaller environments where people knew each other well and knew who they could trust. The initiators were mainly local priests. Krek’s Christian-social movement grew on the basis of Christian faith and social justice. Cooperatives became the main economic base of the Slovenian People's Party, the leading force in the Carniolan countryside. Of course, Krek's ideas also extended to other lands with a Slovene population within the Habsburg monarchy.
Krek also in the Goriška region
As a curiosity: Krek's ideas soon reached Goriška. In Šempeter pri Gorici, the first assembly of the so-called new currents was broken. Christian Socialists in our country. The Gregorčič-Gabršček political alliance was well aware of the importance of the place at the gates of Gorizia. The driving force of Krek's supporters in the Gorizia countryside was the then Šempeter chaplain and later dean Franc Knavs, a newcomer from Carniola, and he had an ally in another Carniolan newcomer, chaplain Ivan Dermasti in Solkan. Probably it was Chaplain Knavs who offered the premises in Šempeter for the first Christian-social gathering in the Goriška region, announced for June 28, 1896. Dr. also came from Ljubljana. Krek and his colleague Josip Gostinčar, a capable organizer in the field of workers. But the opponents managed to break this rally. A week later, the event was reported by Soča, then the leading Slovenian newspaper in the Goriška region, published by Andrej Gabršček:
Nevertheless, on August 26, 1896, a savings and loan bank was established in Šempeter, which began operating on January 1, 1897, among the first in the Goriška region. The founding general assembly, chaired by Chaplain Knavs, a member of the savings bank, was also attended by dr. Krek, who came again with Gostinčar.
The Šempeter Savings Bank, which initially operated in the chaplaincy, was given its own cooperative home in 1910. It came to life successfully and became one of the most important in the Goriška region in the years leading up to the First World War.