Joseph was born in Coroneo, Mexico, and joined the Franciscans when he was 17. Because of Mexicos civil unrest at that time (the forces of Pancho Villa had crossed into New Mexico on a raid the previous year), he was forced to take his philosophy and theology studies in California.
After ordination at Mission Santa Barbara, he returned to Mexico and served at Jerecuaro from 1922 on. The persecution under the presidency of Plutarco Calles (1924-28) forced Joseph to wear various disguises as he traveled around to visit the Catholics. In 1927 Church property was nationalized, Catholic schools were closed, and foreign priests and nuns were deported.
One day Joseph and several others were captured while returning from a secretly held Mass. Father Perez was stabbed to death by soldiers a few miles from Celaya on June 2, 1928.
When Josephs body was later brought in procession to Salvatierra, it was buried there amid cries of "Viva, Cristo Rey!" (Long live Christ the King!).