Father Riopelle was born in Ottawa and did his theological studies in Montreal. He was a member of the Brothers of the Good Shepherd from 1965 to 1977, before being ordained in Ottawa in 1978. He has served in many parishes throughout the area, including St. Maurice's, St. Brigid's, Ottawa, and Our Lady of the Visitation. In 1984, Father Tom was appointed pastor of St. John the Evangelist and the missions of St. Brigid's and St. Leonard's. During his tenure as pastor, he oversaw the expansion and remodeling of St. Brigid's. The newly-renovated St. Brigid's was dedicated and consecrated on November 1, 1988, in a special ceremony
In 1988 Father Tom was appointed as pastor to St. Leonard's. Later, he served as pastor at Holy Cross Parish in Ottawa and St. Michael's in Fitzroy Harbour. Father Tom is presently pastor at St. Patrick's, Fallowfield, where, on September 7, 2003, he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination.