Although I have no formal theological education, I have a strong desire to learn how to engage in apologetics. Where do I start?
I recommend you read the “Apologist’s Bookshelf” and “Starting Out as an Apologist” tracts (available at www.catholic.com), subscribe to orthodox Catholic periodicals (e.g., This Rock), and do as much study as you can.
Apologetics is a unique sort of discipline, and proficiency only comes after substantial experience in live situations, one-on-one discussions, and so forth. I encourage you to study hard and put that study to good use in your parish. What better place to hone your apologetic skills than in your own parish (e.g., RCIA, CCD), which is, according to Catechesi Tradendae, “the pre-eminent place for catechesis.” Think about the great good you can accomplish in the apostolic work of drawing others into a deeper relationship with Christ and his Church.
In Christifideles Laici, John Paul II speaks to the importance of the parish in faith formation:
Situated and at work within the particular Church or diocese is the parish, which has the essential task of a more personal and immediate formation of the lay faithful. In fact, because it is in the position to reach more easily individual persons and singular groups, the parish is called to instruct its members in hearing God’s Word, in liturgical and personal dialogue with God, in the life of fraternal charity, and in allowing a more direct and concrete perception of the sense of ecclesial communion and responsibility in the Church’s mission. (61)